Diabetes is a life-long disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
The three main types of diabetes are:
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and young adults, is an autoimmune disease (a disease that results when the body's system for fighting infection turns against a part of the body) in which the body does not produce insulin. Therefore, a person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period. Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
Type 2 Diabetes
Typically occurring in adulthood, type 2 diabetes is the most common form. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. This form of diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and ethnicity.
When type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons, the body cannot use the insulin effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases. The result is the same as for type 1 diabetes-glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make efficient use of its main source of fuel.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Symptoms may include fatigue or nausea, frequent urination, unusual thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some people do not have any symptoms.
Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy. Like type 2 diabetes, it occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and among women with a family history of diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20 to 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on May 5, 2006 by UNOS and last modified on March 11, 2012. The following sources were used as references:
The Journal of the American Medical Association, retrieved May 11, 2006.
National Library of Medicine, retrieved May 11, 2006.
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