Diabetes is a collection of diseases all characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by an inability of the body to properly transport glucose, a sugar, into the cells to use for energy. High glucose levels are dangerous to your health, causing damage to heart tissue, nerves, bones, kidneys, and eyes, among other things. High levels can also contribute to conditions such as hearing loss, depression, dementia, and poor oral health.
At Lake Family Medicine & Imaging in Sanford, Florida, a general practitioner and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Raj Kandavanam, provides an expert diagnosis of, and treatment for, diabetes. Diabetes comes in a number of different types, with different causes and treatments. So you can understand those types and the risks involved, Dr. Kandavanam has put together this guide to help get you in the know.
The Different Types of Diabetes
All types of diabetes center around problems with the hormone insulin, produced by beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin helps transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to be converted into usable energy. There are a number of different types of diabetes, but the primary ones include:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. Your body erroneously attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, destroying their ability to produce insulin. The condition is usually diagnosed in children, which is why it was once known as “juvenile diabetes,” but it can actually develop at any age. Because the body doesn’t supply insulin, type 1 diabetics need to take the hormone every day, making this form of diabetes “insulin-dependent.”
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, with up to 95% of diabetics having this form. Primarily caused by being overweight or obese and having an unhealthy diet, the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin to handle the body’s needs, or the cells don’t respond normally to insulin when it’s present, elevating blood sugar levels. While mostly seen in middle-aged and older people, this “insulin-resistant diabetes” is becoming more prevalent in younger adults and children as the country’s obesity levels increase.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes, most notably losing weight; eating a healthy, low-fat diet; and exercising regularly.
Though not technically a form of diabetes, prediabetes often precedes a type 2 diagnosis. In this case, blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but they’re not yet high enough for you to be officially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes can prevent the progression to type 2.
Gestational diabetes is a type-specific to women in their second trimester of pregnancy, though not every woman develops it. It comes about because the placenta produces a hormone that makes the body’s cells resistant to insulin, and the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to overcome the deficit. While gestational diabetes usually goes away soon after delivery, it increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.
While about 34.2 million people in the US suffer from some form of diabetes, some 1 in 5 aren’t even aware they have the disease, because prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes don’t produce noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to see your doctor for annual physicals, so he can perform a blood test to check your sugar levels.
If you have a family history of any form of diabetes; if you’re overweight, obese, or sedentary; or if you’ve had a case of gestational diabetes, you need to come in for testing to manage your risks and get appropriate treatment. Give Lake Family Medicine & Imaging a call at 407-232-7655 to set up a consultation with Dr. Kandavanam, or book your appointment online with us today.