When someone mentions diabetes, I know where most people’s minds go to. Normally it’s mentioned on some sort of picture of a sugar-heavy dessert. And someone always comments that “just looking at this gives me diabetes”. What most people know as diabetes is in fact Type 2 diabetes, which has known and (mostly) avoidable causes. But there are other types of diabetes. Of course, they always get lumped in with Type 2 diabetes, despite being very different.
A Simple Explanation of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes generally occurs when the body builds up a resistance to insulin within the body. Over time, your cells are all like “YOU AGAIN?” to the insulin in your body. Insulin (very simply) makes it so the cells in your body can use glucose properly and turn it into energy. With diabetes, because your body isn’t using insulin properly, you can’t make use of that glucose, and you get ill.
Now, with Type 2 diabetes, this happens gradually over time. And, with the right diet and medication, can be manageable. Catch it early enough, and you can control Type 2 diabetes with diet alone. You’ll want to keep on top of it, because diabetes, in all its forms, has lots of complications.
What causes this depends on your situation. Type 2 diabetes is mostly caused by lifestyle, but there’s also genetics involved, and some illnesses and medication can also contribute. To put it another way though, it’s not always because “lol you’re fat”. Stress, lack of sleep, being old and bad genetics can all give you Type 2 diabetes. And, generally, it’s adults and older people who get Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes on the other hand is a whole different problem
Between 5% and 10% of people with diabetes will have Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is vastly different from Type 2, mainly in what causes it. Simply put, people don’t know what actually causes people to get Type 1 diabetes. What happens is that your immune system kills the cells that produce insulin in your pancreas. But no one knows what triggers your immune system to do this. It’s just a thing that happens, with some potential environmental or genetic triggers, but no one is certain and there’s no guaranteed way to prevent it.
Worse, Type 1 diabetes tends to manifest in younger people. As in, mostly kids and teenagers.
You can only treat Type 1 Diabetes with insulin injections in some form
Type 1 diabetes is a pain in the ass because your body doesn’t just resist insulin, it stops producing it entirely. So you need to provide your own insulin from an external source. This means injecting insulin directly into your body, either via syringes, pen-injectors or by wearing an insulin pump.
But Type 1 diabetes needs a lot of constant monitoring and control. Because you are injecting your insulin, you can’t increase or decrease insulin on the fly. So it’s INSANELY easy to either not take enough insulin and have high blood sugar, or go the other way and have low blood sugar. Both can be incredibly dangerous, and it’s genuinely surprising just how quickly both can get you. As I mentioned in the above article, hypoglycemia is more threatening in the short term while hyperglycemia is more threatening in the long term. Constant monitoring of your blood sugar helps, as does strictly controlling your diet and exercise, but it’s a constant chore that never goes away.
Either way, you still need to inject insulin. For the rest of your life.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. It’s been nearly 18 years and I’m now used to it. I have gotten used to doing four injections a day, to doing my blood sugar and things like that. But I’m also lucky that I can afford my medication and go to the doctor when I need to. A lot of people with diabetes, Type 1 or otherwise, can’t really do that.
And when you can’t treat diabetes at all, the pain happens slowly. You don’t really die from diabetes, not most of the time anyway. You die from the complications that untreated diabetes causes. Everything from kidney problems to eyesight issues to depression to heart and liver failure. What makes
Really, it’s a miracle that people like me are even alive. Because insulin was only successfully tested on humans in early 1923. A hundred years ago, pretty much. If I’d been alive any time before this, I’d probably have died already. It’s a depressing thought.
Speaking of which, depression is apparently somehow related to diabetes.
As a random aside, this article is only about Diabetes Mellitus.
There’s actually another form of diabetes called Diabetes Insipidus. But that’s a completely different issue. How is this diabetes connected to Diabetes Mellitus? Because both illnesses, if left untreated, cause you to urinate far, far too much.
So, after all of that, at least we got a fun fact out of it all!