The term diabetes includes several different metabolic disorders that all, if left untreated, result in abnormally high concentration of a sugar called glucose in the blood. Diabetes mellitus type 1 results when the pancreas no longer produces significant amounts of the hormone insulin, usually owing to the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Diabetes mellitus type 2, in contrast, is now thought to result from autoimmune attacks on the pancreas and/or insulin resistance. The pancreas of a person with type 2 diabetes may be producing normal or even abnormally large amounts of insulin. Other forms of diabetes mellitus, such as the various forms of maturity onset diabetes of the young, may represent some combination of insufficient insulin production and insulin resistance. Some degree of insulin resistance may also be present in a person with type 1 diabetes.
This essentially means that the type 2 diabetes is being managed at a level that seems as if the diabetes isn’t there at all. Choosing a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight is the key. Eventually, what will likely happen is that blood glucose levels will increase again at a later time, as the person gets older, or if the person returns to an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle and regains weight because the beta cells of the pancreas have already been stressed.
Whether you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a week ago or 8 years ago like Jacquie, this life-altering day is almost impossible to forget. Your diagnosis day often marks the beginning of a daily routine of prescription medications or injections, and now there is growing evidence that the burden of diabetes may take a huge toll on your mental health over time as well.
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.