Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s system for fighting infection — the immune system — turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, which then produces little or no insulin. A person who has Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases in the United States. It develops most often in children and young adults, but can appear at any age.
Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with Type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma.
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2.
This form of diabetes is most often associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes and physical inactivity, and certain ethnicities are at higher risk. About 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
It is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents, especially among African American, Mexican American and Pacific Islander youths.
When Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons, the body cannot use the insulin effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases.
The result is the same as for Type 1 diabetes — glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make efficient use of its main source of fuel.
The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Their onset is not as sudden as in Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms may include fatigue, frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some people have no symptoms.
Some women develop gestational diabetes late in pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually disappears after the birth of the baby, women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing Type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. Maintaining a reasonable body weight and being physically active may help prevent development of Type 2 diabetes.
— Source: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse