Friday, April 13, 2012

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

oType 1 diabetes is entirely due to an almost complete deficiency  of insulin. The deficiency is the result of the immune system erroneously attacking and destroy- ing  the  insulin-producing  cells  in  the  pancreas. For the proper functioning of our bodies, it is neces- sary for  insulin  to  be  present  at  all  times  in  the bloodstream  and  tissues,  no only  after  we  have eaten. Insulin is essential to maintain the structure of our  tissues  and  prevent  them  from  being  broken down  in  an  uncontrolled  manner.  Withou any insulin present, our tissues literally melt away into simple  compounds that  leave our bodies when we urinate.  Accordingly, people with type 1 diabetes have high levels  of sugar and breakdown products of  fat  and  protein  in  the  bloodstream  and  urine and  develop  the  typical  symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes is due to a combination of our body tissues becoming resistant to the action of insulin (for the reasons  described previously in Question 1) and the inability of the  pancreas to make enough extra insulin to overcome it.  Although this latter compo- nent of the problem is often viewed as a failure of the pancreas, it is not true in the strictest sense. While it is common for the insulin-producing capability of the pancreas to decline throughout later adult life, it was neverthelessufficient  throughout  most  of  human evolution  to prevent us from developing diabetes. It is only in recent  times, when our lifestyle and envi- ronment  have caused  many  of  us  to  becomvery insulin resistant, that the  insulin-producing capacity is unable to compensate. In  the  true  sense, it fails because we impose an excessive load upon it. This is true, even for those of us who have a hereditary pre- disposition to becoming insulin resistant.

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