Meghan Glynn, NEWSDAY
(Newsday.com)—According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21.9 million people in the United States are diagnosed diabetics — with an additional 8.1 million people who have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.
Diabetes, which is a disease where a patient has elevated blood sugar — or glucose — levels, comes in three forms: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, a patient’s body either stops producing or cannot produce enough insulin, which is a blood sugar-regulating hormone created by the pancreas that delivers glucose to all of the body’s cells. With this type of diabetes, the body’s immune system, which normally helps to fend off disease and infection, attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Generally, patients with this form of diabetes are diagnosed in childhood because it’s genetically based. Adults can also be diagnosed with it.
With type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to lifestyle factors, a person’s body gradually develops what is called insulin resistance. This happens when muscles and tissues stop using insulin to carry glucose to the body’s cells. At first the pancreas can produce additional insulin to compensate, but eventually it is unable to create enough insulin.