The increasing incidence of obesity even in childhood also increases the prevalence of metabolic conditions. One of them is diabetes, which was previously a rare disease, but now a common condition that even children suffer from. Diabetes is a metabolic disease involving the inability or reduced ability of the pancreas to produce insulin, an important hormone that regulates the blood sugar levels.
Diabetes occurs in two types: Type 1 and Type 2. While the overall mechanism and symptom of these two types are practically the same, the cause and the managements may differ in some points due to the actual condition of the pancreas in producing insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes or otherwise known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) is the complete inability of the beta cells of the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas to produce insulin. As a result, the body does not have the hormone to transport glucose from the blood to the cells for utilization. The effect is having an increased blood sugar level and decreased energy production due to lack of glucose to be used by the cells.
Type 1 diabetes is also called juvenile onset diabetes as it can affect children. It is usually caused by genetics wherein those with a family history of the disease are predisposed to develop the condition. Injuries as well as systemic conditions that affect the pancreas may also irreversibly impair the ability of the cells to produce insulin.
Since the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, the main treatment for type 1 diabetes is insulin therapy. Those with this type of diabetes often live their life with daily insulin injections to help manage the glucose in the body.
Type 2 Diabetes
The mechanism of type 2 diabetes is similar to type 1 only that the pancreas is still able to produce insulin in small amounts or the cells do not recognize insulin making glucose transport difficult as well. Since the pancreas is still able to produce insulin, this type is also known as Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) since the patient does not require lifetime insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes is usually adult in onset and obesity is seen as the major risk factor for developing this type of diabetes. Obesity seems to reduce the sensitivity of the cells to insulin leading to the inability of the hormone to transport glucose to the cells.
Medications for type 2 diabetes include oral anti-diabetics that help reduce insulin sensitivity and help the pancreas secrete more insulin for the body’s use. Although oral medications is the usual management, insulin injections may still be required during acute hyperglycemia conditions or in emergency conditions wherein the blood glucose levels reach very high requiring fast action through insulin injections.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes lead to the three symptoms of polyuria (increased urination, polyphagia (increased hunger) and polydipsia (increased thirst).
Aside from medications, all people with diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) require strict lifestyle modifications in the form of proper diet and exercise to help stabilize the blood sugar levels.