What Exactly Is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that affects the ability of the body to process dietary sugar into glucose, which is used to fuel the body’s cells. This is a serious problem—if left untreated, diabetes can provoke or exacerbate heart disease, stroke, blindness, severe infection, and pregnancy complications. Here is an overview of the three major types of diabetes, their causes, and how they are treated:

mini glucometer for measuring glucose level blood test

Type-I Diabetes

Formerly known as juvenile diabetes, type-I diabetes is an autoimmune condition that generally manifests between childhood and young adulthood. For unknown reasons, the body’s immune system begins to attack the pancreatic cells that produce insulin , the hormone required to turn sugar into glucose. Because type-I diabetics become unable to create their own insulin, they must receive the hormone artificially through injections or a subcutaneous pump.

Type-II Diabetes

Although this form of diabetes has a genetic component, it is largely seen as a lifestyle-triggered disease. It occurs when the body’s cells lose their ability to use insulin, and over time, the pancreas produces less and less of the hormone. Type-II diabetes is controlled with a combination of healthy lifestyle choices, medication to suppress glucose production, and pancreas stimulants.

Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes can sometimes develop during pregnancy, due to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the absorption of insulin. While this condition is generally temporary, ending after the baby is born, its occurrence can increase both the mother’s and the baby’s risk of having diabetes later in life.

West Hills Hospital & Medical Center holds monthly glucose screening events that are free for H2U members, in order to increase the chances of detecting type-II diabetes before symptoms become prevalent. Call (818) 676-4000 to reserve your spot at our next event on December 18!

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