Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is the name given to a collection of metabolic diseases that occurs when blood glucose (blood sugar) is at elevated levels. The body’s primary energy source, blood glucose is derived from food. Insulin, a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, is used to break down glucose so that it can be transported to the various cells in the body and used for energy. People who have diabetes do not produce enough, if any, insulin, or their bodies do not use insulin efficiently. When this happens, glucose remains in the bloodstream and isn’t transported to the cells.
Diabetes is a chronic condition and there is no cure, meaning that once a person is diagnosed with it, he or she will have it for life. It is extremely common; in 2014, an estimated 422 million people worldwide were affected by diabetes. Some of the most common tell-tale signs of diabetes include an increased need to urinate, extreme thirst, intense hunger, unexplained weight gain or loss, excessive fatigue, tingling and numbness in the extremities.
Since diabetes is so prevalent, it’s important for everyone to be educated about this condition. Here are 10 general facts to know.
1. Type 1 diabetes
With this type of diabetes, a person’s body does not create any insulin. It often develops early in life, during the teenage years or early adulthood. Those who have type 1 diabetes must rely on insulin injections for their entire lives in order to break down glucose, as their bodies do not produce the hormone.
This type of diabetes is commonly referred to as juvenile, early-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. This type of diabetes is the least common type of diabetes, affecting only about 10 percent of the population of people who are diagnosed with diabetes worldwide.