Diabetes is a metabolic disease where the body’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin or does not properly respond to insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. There are several different types of diabetes, but the most common forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both impact glucose levels, and if left untreated, can cause serious complications.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) typically develops after age 40, but has recently begun to appear with more frequency in children. If a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, their pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not produce enough or is not able to use it effectively. Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes manage their disease through a combination of treatments, including diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose, and in some cases, oral drugs, insulin or insulin pumps.
Researchers are still trying to get a clear picture of what causes diabetes—they’ve found that genes don’t tell the whole story, and that environmental factors also play a role. Lack of exercise and obesity in modern society has contributed to an increased risk of T2. There is also a misconception that the cause of diabetes is hereditary, and primarily occurs in families where there is someone else with diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20 – 74 years.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure accounting for 44% of new cases.
Diabetes causes more than 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations each year. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes is recognised as the reason for this rate to be increasing.
|Fasting Plasma Glucose
|Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
|Diabetes||6.5 or above||126 or above||200 or above|
|Prediabetes||5.7 to 6.4||100 to 125||140 to 199|
|Normal||About 5||99 or below||139 or below|
Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include excessive thirst, constant hunger, excessive urination, rapid weight loss for no reason, hard breathing, vision changes, drowsiness or exhaustion. These symptoms can occur quickly.
Type 2 diabetes may have similar, but less obvious symptoms. Often have no symptoms and are only diagnosed after many years following onset. As a consequence approximately half of all people affected with type 2 diabetes are not aware that they have this life-threatening condition. The table above outlines results from the three common methods used to diagnose T2 diabetes.
A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) develops during some cases of pregnancy but often disappears after the pregnancy. People who have had GDM during pregnancy are at a much higher risk of developing T2 diabetes.