What You Need To Know About Diabetes
Across the globe, the rate of diabetes has skyrocketed — quadrupled, in fact — in the last few decades. As of 2012, over 9% of the U.S. population has diabetes — and more than 8.1 million people who have it don't know it, according to the American Diabetes Association. We spoke with Dorothy Fink, MD, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, to find out what you need to know about the condition, including its main warning signs.
What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
To understand the two diseases, you have to first understand what's supposed to happen. After eating — if you're healthy — your digestive system will break down food into basic sugars (a.k.a. glucose) that it can use as fuel. In order for it to do that, though, your pancreas has to release the hormone insulin, which acts like a key for each of your cells, unlocking them so the glucose can enter and be used for fuel. But in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is a kink in this system.
Dr. Fink explains that type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response, which means that antibodies from a patient's own immune system start to attack the pancreas, damaging it and preventing it from producing insulin. Without the insulin, the body's cells can't use the glucose, so it builds up in the blood, causing the "high blood sugar" that can be dangerous. People with type 1 usually have to rely on insulin injections to make sure their bodies can regulate their blood sugar and their cells get the fuel they need.
Patients with type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can still make insulin Continue reading