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What is diabetes and diabetes mellitus?

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Are you confused about the different types of diabetes? There are actually more than you might think. Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder that affects how your body regulates fluids. Diabetes mellitus is the more common condition most people are familiar with, a metabolic disorder that prevents your body from properly regulating blood-sugar levels. When people simply say ‘diabetes’, they are usually referring to diabetes mellitus. It’s much more common and is further broken down into two types.

What are the different types of diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is usually categorized into two forms – type 1 and type 2. The difference between type 1 and type 2 is that with type 1 the body does not make insulin at all. With type 2, the body does make insulin but doesn’t process it very well.

People who suffer from type 1 diabetes are more likely to have had the condition from birth or are diagnosed early in life. With type 2, there are other influences that cause the body to develop diabetes, such as obesity. Gestational diabetes can also occur due to an increase in hormones and changes during pregnancy.

For type 2 diabetes, insulin is needed for survival. The hormone insulin is produced by a gland, that is behind the stomach, called the pancreas. Food is eaten and breaks down to form glucose which will enter the bloodstream. Once this happens, the pancreas will release insulin. The purpose of the insulin is to help glucose enter the cells that will be used as an energy supply. As glucose enters the cells, glucose levels in the bloodstream decrease which signals insulin production to decrease as well. The lower insulin level prompts the liver to release stored glucose as energy. Diabetes occurs when there is an excessive amount of glucose, then cause the pancreas to over deliver insulin. As a result, the cells are fed too much glucose and the levels continue to increase. Too much glucose is harmful to the body and once the liver or muscles have stored all the glucose needed, the liver sends the excess to the fat cells. Once in the fat cells, the body stores this and gains weight.

Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed before the age of 40 and, unlike type 2, is not associated with obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle. It is unclear why type 1 develops, but it is generally thought to be a case of family history, viral infection and even environmental factors.

With type 2 diabetes, the risk begins over the age of 45. Obesity is very closely connected to this condition, which is potentially reversible if your weight can be brought down to a healthier level. With the body producing inadequate insulin, other complications like heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease can arise.

How do you manage diabetes?

Without proper management, diabetes can potentially lead to serious health complications. By following medical advice, however, diabetes can often be easily managed.

Both diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus have symptoms in common. These are fatigue, blurred vision, excessive thirst and Dry Mouth. Fatigue and blurred vision are caused by dehydration in diabetes insipidus and by unstable blood sugar levels in diabetes mellitus. Excessive thirst and/or Dry Mouth occurs in those with diabetes insipidus because the body is sensing a lack of a hormone called Vasopressin. For that reason, the body craves more fluids. With diabetes mellitus, it’s caused by the body expelling excessive amounts of glucose. In both cases, Dry Mouth is an uncomfortable condition that can be helped using over-the counter oral moisturizing products.

Depending on the type of diabetes you have, your doctor or healthcare provider will determine the appropriate course of treatment.

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