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Among the most misunderstood chronic diseases, diabetes probably comes close to the top of that list. November 14th is World Diabetes Day—a day to bring awareness of the disease, and hopefully one person at a time, make it more understood through education.
Diabetes is not one-size-fits-all.Diabetes mellitus simply means that there is an elevation in blood glucose levels. Gearing up for World Diabetes Day, here’s a primer on the different types of diabetes—and that there is no one size-fits-all approach to treatment . . . there are more types and treatments than many people realize!
There are more than two types of diabetes. While Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly discussed, and provides implication that there is also a Type 1. However, there are also several other types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes (T1D): An autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing cells are destroyed. Insulin acts to allow conversion of nutrients in food (carbohydrates, primarily) to energy. Without insulin, blood glucose levels rise rapidly—treatment requires providing synthetic insulin to the body through multiple daily injections or an insulin pump that continuously provides the body insulin. People with T1D cannot live without insulin therapy, and medications alone will not treat T1D.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D): A genetically linked disease, T2D is not simply caused by lifestyle choice related factors. Because of genes predisposing an individual to develop diabetes, in T2D, the body becomes increasingly resistant to responding to its own insulin and/or does not produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. T2D can sometimes be initially treated by reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing insulin sensitivity through exercise, but often requires oral or injectable medications, as well as potential need for insulin as the disease progresses.
Gestational diabetes is related to pregnancy and may require interventions similar to either type 1 or type 2 until symptoms resolve post-pregnancy. It may be attributed to future development of T2D.
Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA or “Type 1.5”), in which there is a slow decline in insulin production, as opposed to the rapid-onset of T1D. LADA is often diagnosed in young adults, and initially may be treated with medications used in T2D, then require insulin.
Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY), typically presents between the ages of 20 and 50. MODY is often asymptomatic due to mild to moderate rise in blood glucose (versus profound rise in T1D). MODY may—or may not—result in diabetic ketoacidosis and severe symptoms. Some types of MODY respond better to insulin, while others respond better to oral medications.
Cystic fibrosis related diabetes (CFRD) is attributed to the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis, in which the body produces abnormally thick mucus—this mucus primarily affects the functioning of the lungs and pancreas. This mucus can affect efficacy of digestive enzymes, cause scarring in the pancreas leading to deficient production or secretion of hormones like insulin, as well as insulin resistance. CFRD is treated with insulin.
Medication-induced diabetes indicates a raise in blood glucose levels in response to certain medications. For example, this is common with high-doses of corticosteroids, referred to as steroid induced diabetes.
Injury/illness affecting the pancreas may cause deficient insulin production. For example, as a result of treatment of pancreatic cancer or surgery on the pancreas, a person may require injections of insulin.
Genotypic attribution: As a predominantly genetic disorder, diabetes is often associated with other genetically-linked conditions, such as Huntington’s Disease or Down Syndrome. A variety of other genotypically-attributed types of diabetes, independent of other genetic comditions, exist as yet-classified variations of this disease.
It is extremely important for all individuals with any type of diabetes to wear medical ID jewelry! By being able to identify the condition, more prompt treatment can be provided in the event of an emergency—all people receiving treatment for diabetes, especially those treated with insulin, are at risk for hypoglycemic, or low blood sugar, reactions—symptoms of mild to moderate lows (shakiness, dizziness, confusion, “tunnel vision”, extreme hunger, irritability, anger, crying, etc.) are easily treatable by consuming fast-acting carbohydrates, but untreated can be mistaken for intoxication by bystanders or law-enforcement. Wearing medical ID ensures that needed care is received! Untreated, incidents of hypoglycemia can become severe and cause unconsciousness—injection of a hormone called glucagon is required promptly. The more a first-responder can identify about your condition immediately through medical ID jewelry, the better the outcome!
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