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The Types and Risks of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that if not monitored and controlled properly, it can lead to serious health issues.  It is important to understand the two different types of diabetes, what causes them, and ways in which they are managed.  When it comes to diabetes, knowledge is your power.  The more you can know about the disease itself, as well as treatment options the better chance you have of living a normal or near normal life.

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is also known as Juvenile Diabetes in that it primarily affects teenagers.  However, after 1997, the name changed to Type 1 Diabetes, which is the second most common, chronic disease found in children, falling second only to asthma.  Today, it is estimated that approximately 13,000 new cases of this form of diabetes are diagnosed every year in the United States.

For diabetes, medical professionals believe that between 5% and 10% of all diabetes cases are Type 1.  Interestingly, boys can certainly develop diabetes but it is more prevalent in girls.  Although Type 1 Diabetes can actually be confirmed regardless of age, it is most often discovered in children and teenagers.  As you can imagine, for children and teens, learning of having diabetes is disturbing, often leading to a level of depression.  Therefore, parents of these children will need to not just understand the disease, but also help children manage it while providing needed support.

With Type 1 Diabetes, the problem is that the immune system actually begins to attack beta cells found in the pancreas, the very place where insulin is created naturally.  Because of this, Type 1 Diabetes is considered a type of autoimmune disease as well.  With the cells being attacked, they are no longer capable of producing insulin, which is actually a hormone that takes blood sugar and uses it for energy.  Eventually, these cells are not getting the energy needed to function and sugar builds up in the blood.  As a result, glucose levels can skyrocket, putting the individual in danger.

To control Type 1 Diabetes, daily shots of insulin are required.  Without these shots, the sad news is that people with this form of diabetes can die.  In addition, individuals living with Type 1 Diabetes need to be on a specific diet designed for this disease, get daily exercise, and always monitor blood sugar levels.  Without taking these three steps for management, the disease would run rampant, causing significant destruction.  Without doubt, Type 1 Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that has to be controlled, which is why involvement from parents is so vital, especially for younger children.

Unfortunately, the only way cure Type 1 Diabetes is for the person to undergo a pancreas transplant, something seldom performed.  The reason is that one, finding pancreas donors is very difficult and two, the patient would be required to live on a long list of drugs for life to ensure the body would not reject the transplanted organ.  Therefore, for all uncertain purposes, Type 1 Diabetes is not a curable disease.  Even so, remember that insulin injections, along with proper diet, exercise, and ongoing monitoring of blood sugar levels can allow a person to live happy and healthy.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is different from Type 1 in many ways.  For instance, this type of diabetes does not require insulin injections.  However, in some cases, medication may be prescribed but shots are not a part of the treatment and management.  For this type of diabetes, it is believed that more than 18 million people have it.  One major difference is that unlike starting life early with diabetes in the case of Type 1, Type 2 usually does not develop until after the age of 45, with risk increasing with age.

With Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas is capable of making adequate levels of insulin but the body still resists what insulin does, meaning blood sugar levels are still not controlled.  Keep in mind that in this case, a number of factors can increase the risk of developing the disease, which include:

• Obesity
• Heredity
• Age
• Sedentary Lifestyle
• Race
• Some Medications
• Women with prior Gestational Diabetes (a form of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy)

To control and manage Type 2 Diabetes, you are looking again at changing diet, making sure it is well-balanced, incorporating exercise to your daily life, and again, possible medication.  In rare cases, a person with this form of diabetes may need to take insulin shots as well.  The key with this form of diabetes, as well as Type 1, is to work with a qualified doctor, one that can provide guidance, education, and support.
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