November is Diabetes Awareness Month! World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated globally on November 14 to raise awareness about both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not make or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy by moving glucose from blood into the cells.
People with diabetes have increased blood glucose (sugar) levels for one or more of the following three reasons:
As a result, high levels of glucose build up in the blood, and spill into the urine and out of the body.
The body loses its main source of fuel and cells are deprived of glucose, a needed source of energy. High blood glucose levels may result in short and long term complications over time.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease of the immune system, which is the body’s system for fighting infection.
In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the beta cells, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, and destroys them.
The pancreas can no longer produce insulin, so people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin daily to live.
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but the disease develops most often in children and young adults.
Symptoms The symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period of time. They include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, and blurred vision. Children may also feel very tired all the time. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, the person with type 1 diabetes will eventually lapse into a life-threatening condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
Risk factors. Though scientists have made much progress in predicting who is at risk for developing type 1 diabetes, they do not know exactly what triggers the immune system’s attack on beta cells. They believe that type 1 diabetes is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
The first step in the development of type 2 diabetes is often a problem with the body’s response to insulin, called insulin resistance. This means that the body needs increasing amounts of insulin to control blood glucose. The pancreas tries to make more insulin, but after several years, insulin production may drop off.
Type 2 diabetes used to be found mainly in adults who were overweight and over age 40. Now, as more children and adolescents become overweight and inactive, type 2 diabetes occurs more often in young people. Many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
Symptoms: Some symptoms similar to type 1:
Tired, thirsty, hunger, increased urination
Some people show no symptoms at diagnosis.
Whether we consider type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the goal of effective diabetes management is to control blood glucose levels by keeping them within a target range that is individually determined for each child.
Optimal blood glucose control helps to promote normal growth and development and allows for optimal learning. It is also needed to prevent the immediate dangers of blood glucose levels that are either too high or too low.
Research has shown that maintaining blood glucose levels within the target range can prevent or delay the long-term complications of diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, nerve disease, and amputations of the foot or leg.
When insulin is no longer made, it must be obtained from another source–insulin shots or an insulin pump.
All people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin.
People with type 2 diabetes use diet and exercise, and oral medications, and/or insulin to manage their disease.
Neither insulin nor other medications, however, are cures for diabetes: they only help control the disease.
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