Type and Type Diabetes

Diabetes is a very serious and widespread disease that affects most of the systems in the body. It is currently the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It is responsible for a staggering 210,000 deaths annually and steadily rising. What exactly is Diabetes? There are two major types of Diabetes: Type I (formerly known as juvenile onset diabetes) and Type II (which is much more common). High blood glucose levels that lead to a host of problems characterize both types.

Type I Diabetes is a disease involving the pancreas in which the body destroys its own B cells and the pancreas can no longer make insulin. With no insulin to move glucose into body cells, glucose sits in the bloodstream and the levels soar. Telltale signs and symptoms usually appear especially thirst, hunger, excessive urination and fatigue. This type is more common in people under 30 and often appears in childhood. The peak onset is 11-13 years of age. Insulin injections are required for the remainder of the sufferer's life.

This can be very difficult for a child who is battling diabetes. Complications such as heart disease, strokes, blindness and limb amputations due to vascular disease are frequently found also. Fortunately, Type I Diabetes accounts for only 5-10% of all types of diabetes. In sharp contrast, Type II Diabetes claims a whopping 90% of all types of diabetes. It usually starts at age 35 or older and is especially common in the elderly.

In type II Diabetes, there can be a combination of problems. The pancreas is still able to make insulin, but often it does not make enough and/or the cells are not able to use the insulin. Unlike Type I Diabetes, insulin injections are not always necessary, because the body can often still make some insulin. Sometimes oral medications, regular exercise and good nutrition are able to control the high glucose levels. In many ways, the two types of diabetes are similar.

Type II Diabetes frequently displays the same symptoms as Type I, but they are usually much milder or absent if the disease is kept under control. Exercise and proper nutrition is essential for controlling both types, but Type I patients tend to be thin, while Type II patients are usually obese. The same kinds of complications, especially heart disease, often plague Type II patients.

Type I Diabetes can have a profound impact on the lives of children diagnosed with it. Not only do they have to adjust to major life changes such as daily insulin injections, but they also face potential problems with self-esteem and peer interaction. Family counseling and support groups are often helpful in dealing with these issues. Diabetes also poses an added risk for the elderly who are already more prone to developing strokes and heart problems.

An estimated 20% of people over age 65 have diabetes, so this is a very real problem. Often the elderly population has a difficult time adapting to the disease. Overall, diabetes has had a devastating effect on our society with about $98 billion spent on it annually in medical costs.

Jon Arnold is an author and computer engineer who maintains various web sites on a variety of topics. More info on this topic can be found at his Diabetes Information web site at

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