It is estimated that over 200,000 people in Utah (10% of the adult population) have diabetes and an astonishing 619,000 Utahns have prediabetes. Diabetes affects nearly 30 Million Americans and is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

November is diabetes awareness month, and while diabetes is a common word, many people are unable to distinguish between the three common types. Below are the main variations of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

This type of diabetes is known by several other names including juvenile diabetes and Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM. It occurs in two forms:

  • Idiopathic type 1- It refers to the rare forms of the disease with no known roots.
  • Immune-mediated diabetes- This refers to an autoimmune disorder whereby the body’s immune system destroys or makes an attempt to destroy insulin-producing cells located in the pancreases.

The Immune-mediated diabetes is more common compared to the idiopathic type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is most prevalent in children and young adults, but can always start at any age.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is believed to stem from the immune system being triggered. The immune system of the body attacks and kills the cells producing insulin in the pancreas.

Insulin is the chemical that allows glucose to be absorbed into the cells of the body.

When the cells producing insulin are killed, insulin cannot be produced; and glucose will not be absorbed into the body. Patients with Type 1 diabetes need to take daily injections of insulin as well as monitor their blood sugar level regularly.

Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors

A number of factors can put you at risk for diabetes type 1. They include:

  • Family history
  • Ethnicity
  • Geographical location
  • Other autoimmune conditions like Grave’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin is required for the treatment of diabetes type 1. Your doctor will be the one to make your insulin plan bases on some factors like age, medical history, overall health and extent of the disease among others.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is more common than Type 1 Diabetes.  Type 2 is a metabolic disorder stemming from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin. With low production of insulin, it becomes difficult for the body to move blood sugar into cells. This type of diabetes is a chronic one and has no cure.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

The causes of this condition are unknown yet. However, several signs point to the direction of a genetic factor causing it to run in families. You can inherit a tendency to develop the disease but other elements, like obesity or physical inactivity, is usually involved.

Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Just like its other counterparts, there exists a myriad of risk factors diabetes type 2. They include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • High triglyceride level

Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

The exact treatment for this type of diabetes will be determined based on the following factors:

  • Your age, medical history and overall health
  • Extent of the disease
  • Cost of therapy
  • Your tolerance for certain medications, treatments, and procedures
  • Increase physical activity
  • A healthy meal plan

Gestational Diabetes

This is a condition where the glucose level is higher and other symptoms of diabetes appear during pregnancy. Here, all the diabetes symptoms disappear after delivery. It is caused by the hormonal effects during the pregnancy period on the insulin, and the condition is commonly referred to as insulin resistance.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

The exact cause remains unknown though theories are explaining the condition. The placenta, during pregnancy, plays the vital role of supplying the fetus with water, nutrients as well as producing a particular hormone that helps in maintaining the pregnancy. Some of the hormones can interfere with insulin effect, referred to as contra-insulin effect which usually starts about 20-24 weeks after conception. The insulin resistance becomes greater with time. Usually, the pancreas can overcome insulin resistance by producing additional insulin. However, when the insulin production is insufficient to overcome the effect of the hormones of the placenta, gestational diabetes occurs.

Risk factors associated with gestational diabetes

  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • History of pre-diabetes
  • Age
  • Race
  • Prior history of gestational diabetes in the course of previous pregnancies

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

The treatment for gestational diabetes is determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, health and medical history
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Tolerance for specific therapies, procedures, and medication.

The treatment focuses on normalizing the blood glucose levels. It may include:

  • Exercise
  • Special diet
  • Insulin injections
  • Oral anti-diabetic medication