Diabetes: Fast Facts

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks the insulin-making cells of the pancreas.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body has trouble using insulin to process blood sugar for energy.
  • Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of diabetes, accounting for up to 95 percent of cases.
  • Pregnant women can develop a condition called gestational diabetes.
  • Other forms of diabetes include an inherited condition called maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY); latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood, a variation of type 1 diabetes that develops in adults; and secondary diabetes, which is caused by another condition, such as pancreatitis, or by a medical treatment, such as corticosteroid therapy.
  • Most forms of diabetes last the rest of a person's life, but gestational diabetes and some cases of secondary diabetes are temporary.
  • Experts such as the American Diabetes Association say that you don't get diabetes from eating sugar. However, some studies have found that sugary or high-carb diets might increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And overeating can lead to obesity, a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
  • One reason that type 1 diabetes is no longer called juvenile diabetes and type 2 diabetes is no longer called adult-onset diabetes is that increasing numbers of children are becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Scary thought -- the U.S. government predicts that a third of American children born in 2000 will eventually develop diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes is one of the world's most devastating and costly diseases -- and one that often can be prevented.
  • Everyone with type 1 diabetes and some people with other forms of diabetes must take insulin to survive.
  • Syringe injections are the most common way of taking insulin. Other methods include insulin pens and insulin pumps.
  • Scientists are working on new ways of taking insulin, including sprays, skin patches and pills. The first inhaled insulin became available in 2006. It was withdrawn from the market after little more than a year because of poor sales, but other versions might one day find success.
  • Type 1 diabetes cannot turn into type 2 diabetes, or vice versa. However, sometimes people with type 1 diabetes develop insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2, usually because of weight gain and less commonly because of genetic factors. This condition is known as double diabetes. And some people with type 2 diabetes do not need to take insulin at first but later do to control their blood sugar.
  • Medications can come from the strangest places -- one diabetes drug is a synthetic version of a hormone found in the saliva of a venomous lizard called the Gila monster!
  • There is an unrelated disease called diabetes insipidus, in which the kidneys release too much water.

Reviewed by Nikheel Kolatkar, M.D.

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