Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age; however, it is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults.
Insulin is a hormone produced by special cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells produce little or no insulin.
Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy. This leads to the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. It is most likely an autoimmune disorder. An infection or some other trigger causes the body to mistakenly attack the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This kind of disorder can be passed down through families.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
Diabetes is caused by a problem in the way your body makes or uses insulin. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy. When you have type 2 diabetes, your fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy. When sugar cannot enter cells, high levels of sugar build up in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs slowly over time. Most people with the disease are overweight when they are diagnosed. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way. Type 2 diabetes can also develop in people who are thin. This is more common in the elderly. Family history and genes play a large role in type 2 diabetes. Low activity level, poor diet, and excess body weight around the waist increase your risk.
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can block insulin from doing its job. When this happens, glucose levels may increase in a pregnant woman's blood.
You are at greater risk for gestational diabetes if you:
- Are older than 25 when you are pregnant
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds or had a birth defect
- Have high blood pressure
- Have too much amniotic fluid
- Have had an unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth
- Were overweight before your pregnancy