Diabetes is one of the most talked about diseases across the world and especially in India. With the country having the highest number of diabetic population in the world, the sweet disease is posing an enormous health problem to our country today. Often known as the diabetes capital of the world, India has been witnessing an alarming rise in incidence of diabetes. According to WHO fact sheet and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas 2015 on diabetes, India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes (8.7%) which are expected to rise to 123.5 million by 2040 unless urgent preventive steps are taken.
If we put simply, diabetes is a condition that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Anyone who has diabetes, no matter what type, means blood glucose levels are above normal, although the causes may differ. Normally, the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, which is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for your body and brain. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into the cells of our bodies, where it can be used for energy.
When someone has diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t utilize its own insulin as effectively as possible. This causes sugar to build up in the blood which may further lead to serious health problems.
Let’s understand the different types of diabetes
Pre-diabetes – According to some recent stats from Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes and shockingly 90% don’t even know it. You can have prediabetes for years but have no clear symptoms, so it often goes undetected until serious health problems show up. Pre-diabetes is a transition between normality and diabetes. It means that it is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes, although this is not inevitable. However, it’s real and common. But the good news is that it is reversible, by making lifestyle changes (like exercising daily, losing weight and eating balanced meals) many people with pre-diabetes delay or even prevent developing diabetes. Most importantly, without intervention, 15-30 % of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within the next five years.
Type 1 diabetes – Type 1 diabetes account for about 5% of all cases of diabetes. It is an auto-immune condition occurs when insulin-making cells in pancreas are destroyed by the body. So, in people with type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin that’s why the body requires lifelong insulin injections for life. People with type 1 diabetes are usually thin and are in normal weight range. It typically develops in children and young adults, although cases are also seen in later years of life.
Type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes, accounting for 90% to 95% of total diabetic population. It occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it has produced. It usually develops in adults over the age of 45 years but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups also. It’s believed that genetic and lifestyle factors like obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity etc. play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. It is initially treated with lifestyle changes like healthy diet and increased physical activity but medication and/or insulin are often required.
Gestational Diabetes – According to analysis by the CDC about 9.2% of pregnant women develops gestation diabetes. It refers to high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that you had diabetes before you conceived, or that you will have diabetes after giving birth. It’s a temporary condition and usually goes away after the birth of the baby. However, women with gestational diabetes are 7 times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes 5 to 10 years after delivery. Gestational diabetes is often managed with a specific meal plan, lifestyle changes and may also require insulin.
Other types of Diabetes – One of uncommon type of diabetes called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) which is referred as type 1.5 diabetes. This is not an official term but it does illustrate the fact that LADA is a form of type 1 diabetes that develops later into adulthood and shares some characteristics with type 2 diabetes. As a form of type 1 diabetes, LADA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and kills off insulin producing cells.
LADA can often be mistaken for type 2 diabetes as it develops usually in adults over a period of years whereas type 1 diabetes tends to develop quickly in days or months, usually seen in children or younger adults. About 15% to 20% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in fact have LADA.
Genetic defects of insulin producing B-cell function or insulin processing or action may also cause some rare hereditary form of diabetes. In some cases, defects or diseases related to pancreas like inflammation, infection, stones, cyst or tumour in pancreas can also trigger to secondary form of diabetes. At times, in specific cases certain viral infections, chemicals or drugs may also lead to diabetes.
Although diabetes has no cure, yet by knowing early symptoms and causes you can assess your risk and take preventive steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.