What is Diabetes?

Learn more about Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes & Gestational Diabetes. 

Types of Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Your body needs energy to move and live, in the same way your car needs fuel to go. Your body’s fuel and energy comes from the food you eat, and how it is digested. As part of the food digestion process, your body absorbs what you eat into your bloodstream. That is then converted into glucose, a form of sugar.

Your body needs fuel

That sugar then moves around your body to provide you with the energy to live your life. But, to be processed correctly, your body needs the assistance of a hormone called Insulin.

Your insulin levels

Insulin is produced by a gland called the pancreas. But, when your pancreas battles to produce Insulin, or your body can’t manage your Insulin levels correctly, that’s when you’ll be diagnosed as Diabetic.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus, also known as Diabetes, is a chronic medical condition where your body’s mechanism of producing and/or using Insulin stops works normally, and your body is unable to use glucose normally.

Types of Diabetes.

Knowing which type of Diabetic you are is important for managing it effectively.

Diabetes types

When you are diagnosed as Diabetic, your doctor or clinic sister will tell you what type of Diabetes you have been diagnosed with.

Diagnosed as Diabetic

Being diagnosed with Diabetes may have left you feeling a bit shaken. We help you understand your Diabetes Type, and more about your diagnosis as Diabetic.

Types of Diabetes

There are 3 primary types of Diabetes, although new research suggests there may be up to 5 (Whiteman, 2018). Research published by The Lancet suggests that redefining the types in line with genetic predisposition could simplify treatment. Traditionally and generally, however, there are 3 primary types of Diabetes. Confirming your type of Diabetes will help you and your medical team create a Diabetic treatment and Diabetic monitoring programme:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your pancreas produces little to no Insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes.

Insulin is required for your body to process glucose in your bloodstream. If you’re diagnosed as Type 1 Diabetic, your blood glucose levels are too high, and you need an intervention.

Type 1 Diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease, and can develop at any stage of your life. Type 1 Diabetes results from the death of Beta cells inside your pancreas, that produce and secrete Insulin.

If you are a Type 1 Diabetic, you need to regularly inject yourself with Insulin and adopt a Diabetic-friendly diet.

Approximately 10% of Diabetics are now reported as Type 1. 

Type 1 Diabetes usually starts in people under the age of 30 (including very young children and infants), with sudden and dramatic onset. Left untreated, your high blood glucose level can be fatal.

Type 1 Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be treated, monitored, and managed. Because each person differs, your doctor or clinic sister must advise you on your unique Diabetic treatment and Diabetic management plan.

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Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is also known as Adult Diabetes, or Maturity Onset Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your pancreas produces insufficient Insulin, or the body can’t use what’s been produced.

This type of Diabetes is largely diagnosed as a result of lifestyle. Becoming a Type 2 Diabetic can be avoided and managed by eating appropriately and exercising consistently.

Insulin-producing Beta cells, in Type 2 Diabetes, are present and functional, but are overworked. This happens because the demand for Insulin, created by the presence of glucose in the bloodstream, is just too high. Whatever Insulin does get secreted, becomes ineffective for processing such high sugar levels in your body. Eventually this leads to a state called Insulin Resistance.

Type 2 Diabetes develops as your body battles to produce Insulin, and your blood glucose levels become unmanageable. The overconsumption of sugar and sugar-filled products has been closely linked to Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is most commonly managed by following a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and excess carbohydrates, and making sure you get enough exercise. If it intensifies, you may need Diabetic medication or Insulin treatment to help your body effectively regulate its blood glucose.

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic medical condition. There is no cure for Type 2 Diabetes, but there are Diabetic treatment and Diabetic monitoring programmes.

Type 2 Diabetes stays with you for life.

An estimated 85 – 90% of all people diagnosed as Diabetic have Type 2 Diabetes.

Many Type 2 Diabetic people are unfortunately undiagnosed. It’s most common in people over the age of 40; people who are overweight; don’t exercise intensively or regularly enough, people with chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) and elevated cholesterol levels.

Although Type 2 Diabetes is in itself not life-threatening, in many ways it is even more dangerous than Type 1 Diabetes.

The onset of Type 2 Diabetes is gradual and hard to detect. High blood glucose levels over a long period of time can cause serious damage to the delicate parts of the body. It can also lead to impotence in men, blindness, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation.

Type 1 Diabetes is normally diagnosed quite quickly and early on. Type 2 Diabetes often goes undetected until it is too late.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes develops only in pregnant mothers, and usually disappears after they have given birth.

Gestational Diabetes occurs when pregnant mothers develop excessively high blood glucose levels, and their bodies are unable to produce enough Insulin.

Gestational Diabetes is most commonly treated through bedrest and mothers often have to deliver a little earlier than expected, to ensure their health and the health of their baby.

Gestational Diabetes is something your doctor or clinic sister will check for during your checkups. After you’ve given birth, there is an elevated risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes along the way, but your doctor or clinic sister will advise you on your best course of action.

Sources:

Diabetes.co.uk. 2019. Diabetes types. 15 January. Article online. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-types.html [Accessed 7 November 2019].

International Diabetes Federation. n.d. What is diabetes?. Web page online. Available at: https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes.html [Accessed 7 November 2019].

Pietrangelo, A. 2018. What are the different types of diabetes? Healthline. 28 June. Article online. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/types-of-diabetes [Accessed 7 November 2019].

WebMD. 2019. Types of diabetes mellitus. Web page online. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/types-of-diabetes-mellitus#1 [Accessed 7 November 2019].

Whiteman, H. 2018. Diabetes: study proposes five types, not two. Medical News Today. 2 March. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321097.php [Accessed 7 November 2019].

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:

 

  • 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor Diabetic control needs attention.

What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes occurs in pregnant mothers.

What are the first signs of Diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.

Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, when you are a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm your diagnosis as Diabetic. A series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

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