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Diabetes – What type are you?

There are 2 main types of diabetes that can be discerned based on their physiopathology:

Type I Diabetes

Type I diabetes occurs when the body is not able to produce insulin (a hormone) because the immune system attacks and destroys the cells of the pancreas that produce it. Usually, diabetes type I is diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. This diabetes is autoimmune and people who suffer from it must be given insulin daily to survive.

Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. In this case, the cells of the pancreas are not destroyed by the organism itself, rather, what happens is that there is an insulin resistance. Therefore, the cells of the organism do not respond well to the secretion of insulin, causing blood glucose levels to increase since insulin cannot transport glucose to cells for absorption like it normally does. It is usually associated with more advanced ages, starting at 40, but it can also be diagnosed in children and adolescents with obesity. In this case, the treatment is based on an adequate diet while avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Sometimes, it can require oral medication.

Apart from these two main types of diabetes there are others that are temporary and less serious. These are:

  • Gestational diabetes: It appears in pregnant women and disappears right after delivery.

  • Basal plasma glucose: it is a state previous to full-blown diagnosis of diabetes in which we cannot say that a person has diabetes but whose blood glucose level is not normal either. Many of these people can develop diabetes after a while.

  • Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY): it is a hereditary form of diabetes that tends to occur before the patient reaches 25 years of age. It is a very rare condition since it only represents between 1-5% of all cases.

Although some tests are effective in diagnosing diabetes, they are not always able to identify what type it is. It is difficult to establish if it is type I or type II. This step is important to maximize treatment.

To find out if diabetes is type I, you should look for certain antibodies. These antibodies attack cells and healthy tissues by mistake. Therefore, the presence of one or more of the various types of autoantibodies specific to diabetes serve to diagnose type I diabetes and rule out type II.

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