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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes Demands a Triad of Treatments

Two Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes, Type I and Type II. Insulin-dependent, or Type I, diabetes affects about 5 percent of all diabetics. It's also known as juvenile diabetes because it often occurs in people under 35 and commonly appears in children or adolescents. For example, Mary Tyler Moore, a Type I diabetic who is international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, was diagnosed in her late 20s, following a miscarriage. A routine test found her blood sugar level was 750 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), as compared with the normal level, 70 mg/dl to 105 mg/dl. And Collie has been diabetic since age 17.

In Type I diabetes, the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas are destroyed, with insulin production almost ceasing. Experts believe that this may be the result of an immune response after a viral infection.

Type I diabetics must inject insulin regularly under the skin. Insulin cannot be taken by mouth because it cannot be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. Doses range from one or two up to five injections a day, adjusted in response to regular blood sugar monitoring.

Insulin regulates both blood sugar and the speed at which sugar moves into cells. Because food intake affects the cells' need for insulin and insulin's ability to lower blood sugar, the diet is the cornerstone of diabetes management: Insulin is not a replacement for proper diet.

Symptoms of untreated insulin-dependent diabetes include:

If Type I diabetes goes untreated, a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis can quickly develop. If this condition is not treated, coma and death will follow.

Type II, or non-insulin-dependent, diabetes is the most common type. It results when the body produces insufficient insulin to meet the body's needs, or when the cells of the body have become resistant to insulin's effect. While all Type I diabetics develop symptoms, only a third of those who have Type II diabetes develop symptoms. Many people suffer from a mild form of the disease and are unaware of it. Often it's diagnosed only after complications are detected.

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