Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease characterised by an elevated fasting blood glucose level due to defects in insulin secretion or inability to use insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes – T1DM
In T1DM the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed by the body’s immune system. Without insulin the body’s cells cannot take up glucose (sugar) and turn it into energy. Glucose builds up in the blood stream and this can damage organs in the body such as the kidneys, heart and eyes. People with T1DM require daily injections of insulin to control their glucose levels.
They also test their blood glucose levels several times daily. The onset of T1DM typically occurs in people under 30 years, but can occur at any age. About 10-15% of all cases of diabetes are T1DM.
Type 2 Diabetes – T2DM
T2DM is the more common form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes. While it usually affects older adults, more and more young people, even children, are developing T2DM. In T2DM the pancreas produces insulin but the body’s cells do not respond effectively to the insulin and so do not take up the blood glucose and turn it into energy. This results in a build-up of glucose in the blood.
T2DM results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although there is a strong genetic predisposition, the risk is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and the classic ‘apple shape’ body where extra weight is carried around the waist.
The management of T2DM includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. Some people with T2DM may also need medication and insulin injections.