Diabetes mellitus is a serious condition where the body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the body’s main source of energy. Insulin is a vital hormone found in the pancreas, allowing glucose to be transferred into the cells in the body, providing energy. In people with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body.
Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to both long- and short term health complications, and people with diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering from heart and kidney disease, stroke, limb amputation caused by nerve damage, depression, anxiety and blindness.
There are three main forms of diabetes, types 1, 2 ,and gestational diabetes.
The most common symptoms of diabetes are the feeling of thirst, passing urine frequently and fatigue. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are often sudden and dramatic, while one of the biggest challenges with type 2 diabetes is that there are often no symptoms, resulting in a delay in diagnosis, by which time various other complications may also be present.
Diabetes may be present if you experience the following:
- Abnormal thirst and a dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Extreme tiredness/lack of energy
- Being more irritable or moody than usual
- Constant hunger
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Slow-healing sores, cuts and bruises
- Tingling or numbness in legs, feet or fingers
- Recurrent infections
- Blurred vision
- Family history of diabetes
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Explained
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition where the pancreas is attacked by auto-antibodies - antibodies that mistakenly target and damage specific tissues or organs of the body - causing it to fail. Type 1 diabetes usually develops before adulthood and remains with them throughout their life, requiring insulin treatment.
On the other hand,
type 2 diabetes is mainly brought on by an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle and weight gain. It is associated with decreasing levels of activity and an increasing prevalence of obesity. In this type of diabetes, there is insulin in the body, but the body becomes resistant to it so the insulin becomes largely ineffective.
Obesity is known to increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in adulthood, and with the rise in childhood obesity in recent years, more children are developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, managed and even reversed by eating a healthy, balanced diet, keeping a normal weight and exercising regularly.
The main differences between type 1 and type 2 are listed in the table, below.
||Type 1 (insulin dependent)
||Type 2 (insulin resistant)
||Usually younger and lean
||Mostly older and overweight
||No general genetic predisposition
||No evidence of autoimmunity
||Insulin deficiency - always needs insulin
||Insulin resistance AND not enough insulin (even though insulin level may be high)