Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to get sugar from the blood, causing higher blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Glucose, otherwise known as sugar, is introduced to the body by breaking down food and used by the body’s cells for energy. The pancreas produces insulin, which is sent through the blood stream and needed for glucose to enter a cell. A person with diabetes cannot produce insulin, has a deficiency, or is insulin resistant. Having elevated glucose levels over a prolonged period can cause multiple health complications both short and long term.
The body cannot produce insulin at all, causing the cells to not be able to absorb glucose needed to produce energy. Type 1 was formerly called juvenile-onset diabetes as symptoms usually become apparent during childhood and young adulthood. The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, and it cannot be prevented.
The pancreas produces minimal insulin, or the body has an inability to use it properly, which is called insulin resistance. Type 2 symptoms most commonly present in adults, but cases of Type 2 in children are rising. Type 2 accounts for the majority of all diabetes cases, and can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle choices.
During pregnancy some women produce insulin blocking hormones, causing gestational diabetes. This type generally produces few symptoms, but is important to monitor as it can cause complications with the pregnancy. It is especially common in the last 3 months, and generally resolves itself after the birth. Diagnosis with gestational diabetes can increase the risk of developing Type 2 later in life.
There are many other aspects to diabetes, but these are the main differences between the three main types. For more detailed information on symptoms and how to manage diabetes, please check our Diabetes FAQ!