November is National Diabetes Month. And the diagnosis is on the rise - with an estimated 25 million patients in the United States alone.
"Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas has quit making insulin altogether." And Freeman Diabetes Education Program Coordinator Susan Pittman points out that Type 2 diabetes also involves insulin - but there are different complications. "Happens for one of three reasons. Maybe the body's not making as much insulin as the person needs. It may be because the cells are very stubborn. We call it insulin resistance where those cells are not using insulin the way that they should. And the third reason we see is the liver which produces glucose will overproduce glucose and release that and cause higher blood sugars."
Symptoms can be similar for both type 1 and type 2: excessive thirst, increased urination and unexplained weight loss. Added Pittman, "People may feel more tired because they're not getting the energy that they need."
Type 1 diabetes will always be treated with insulin, but there are a wider range of options with Type 2. Pittman said, "The first line to treat Type 2 diabetes is diet and exercise. And so if we control the amount of carbohydrate foods we're eating, it helps the body process those carbohydrates better, helps us have enough insulin to take care of that patient's needs."