Diabetes is a relatively common life-long health condition. Currently there are 3.2 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 630,000 people who have the condition but worryingly they don’t even know it. This is dangerous as Diabetes can have serious complications. There are two main types of diabetes type 1, known as diabetes mellitus, or juvenile diabetes. It is called this because typically suffers are diagnosed at an early age.
The second type of diabetes is type 2, which is more common in older people. It is often attributed to poor diet and high weight, but there are other factors that people do not consider at all.
A lot of clinical research has been done and is being conducted currently which is looking into a cure for the condition. Although a lot of the Clinical Trials for Diabetes seem to focus mainly on type two diabetes, because it is the more common form of diabetes.
What is type 1 diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas, which is a small gland behind the stomach, does not produce any insulin. This is the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. This is why type 1 diabetics rely on insulin to regulate their glucose levels. This is usually done by injection, but it can also be done via an insulin pump. If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, it can lead to something called ketoacidosis which is a life threatening condition.
There is also the risk of hypoglycaemia, which is when there is too much insulin in the body. This is caused when the diabetic miscalculates the amount of insulin needed and takes too much. This is combated by regular blood testing, which is an absolute necessity to keep everything in order.
Not managing type 1 can lead to a host of serious complications, some of these include:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
Research into type 1
There has been Clinical Research studies carried out in relation to type 1 diabetes, both involving working on a cure and trying to make the condition more manageable. The biggest breakthrough in the on-going clinical trials for diabetes is the development of an artificial pancreas which would do all the work of a normal pancreas in place of insulin injections.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body or the insulin isn’t working as it should do. The pancreas still produces insulin but may need help from external sources too.
Type 2 diabetes is considered less serious than type one, occurring in people over the age of 40 usually. There are risk groups who can develop it earlier though, with those of south Asian descent contracting it from the age of 25. Type 2 can be controlled with a healthy diet, exercise and sometimes certain drugs can help too.
It is a sad reality, but it is becoming increasingly common amongst children and young people too. This can be attributed to the rising childhood obesity levels, which can be a contributing factor towards developing type 2 diabetes.
This form of diabetes accounts for between 85 and 95 percent of all diabetic cases.
Whilst research is being done, the best thing currently for suffers of this type is to make sure they live a healthy and active lifestyle.
Aside from types 1 and 2, there are also different versions listed below, however these are less common and in some cases are not even permanent. These are:
- Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY)
Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) is an inherited form of diabetes. It is caused by a change in genes. Regulating blood sugar is the same for MODY sufferers. MODY is more likely to affect teenagers and young adults, but it can occur at any age. There are 11 different versions of this disease, depending on which gene has changed. The majority of these though can be controlled through drugs, but some may need insulin injections later in life.
- Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes found in pregnant women. It occurs when the pancreas cannot meet the demand for the extra insulin usage due to pregnancy.
- Neonatal diabetes
Neonatal diabetes is a rarer form of diabetes that is diagnosed in babies under 9 months old. It is not the same as type 1 as it is not an autoimmune disorder. In addition to this, the condition often disappears once the child reaches 12 months of age.
- Wolfram Syndrome
Wolfram syndrome is very rare form of diabetes, with suffers having a shortage of insulin, just like type 1. However unlike type 1, Wolfram syndrome sufferers can also have neurological or psychiatric disorders. They will also suffer from optic atrophy. It is also fatal by the time the sufferer reaches mid adult -hood, whereas type 1 is manageable.
- Alstrom Syndrome
Alstrom syndrome is another rare condition that is inherited genetically. Both parents must have this gene; which is why it is so rare. Many people who suffer from this syndrome will usually go on to develop type 2 diabetes.