Diabetes Information and Management
Overview Of Diabetes
Diabetes is generally defined as an inappropriate elevation of blood sugar, also known as glucose, that arises when our bodies can no longer regulate the uptake and disposal of glucose in an efficient manner. There are two principal types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes; and Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
The vast majority of Canadians and persons worldwide with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. This disease arises when sufficient insulin can no longer be produced to meet our body's demands. Many patients with Type 2 diabetes also exhibit a defect in the effectiveness of how insulin works, also known as insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes may often arise in association with excess weight gain or obesity, which may be associated with reduced effectiveness of insulin action. The majority of patients develop Type 2 diabetes later in life, although the incidence of Type 2 diabetes has been increasing in young adults and children. Treatment of Type 2 diabetes will vary depending on the severity of the disease, and may include diet, medications taken to increase insulin secretion or enhance insulin action, and if required, injections of insulin. There does not appear to be a single cause or etiology that results in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Although some patients have genetic defects that predispose towards the development of Type 2 diabetes, in the majority of cases, over 90% of individuals will not develop Type 2 diabetes as a result of a defective gene. Rather, a combination of genetic predisposition, lifestyle, and environmental factors may contribute to the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in any given individual.
Type 1 Diabetes
Patients with Type 1 diabetes develop the disorder as a result of an immune-mediated destruction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. For some reason, our immune system attacks and destroys our insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The reasons for the development of Type 1 diabetes remain poorly understood. However, the destruction of the insulin-producing cells results in a need for insulin replacement to control blood glucose in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Although Type 1 diabetes commonly affects young children and teenagers, older individuals may also develop Type 1 diabetes. In some cases, it may be difficult to distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes when the pancreas seems to completely lose its ability to produce and secrete insulin.
For more information about the types, causes, and resources available for the treatment of diabetes, see the following websites:
- Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines
- The American Diabetes Association
- Health Canada Online