Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that result from defects in insulin secretion, or its action, or both. Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes (as it will be in this article) was first identified as a disease associated with "sweet urine," and excessive muscle loss in the ancient world. Elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia) lead to spillage of glucose into the urine, hence the term sweet urine.
Chronic exposure of β-cells to triacylglycerol or fatty acids either in vitro or in vivo decreases β-cell capacity to respond to an acute increase in glucose levels (57,58). This concept is far from new (59,60), but the observations of what happens during reversal of diabetes provide a new perspective. β-Cells avidly import fatty acids through the CD36 transporter (24,61) and respond to increased fatty acid supply by storing the excess as triacylglycerol (62). The cellular process of insulin secretion in response to an increase in glucose supply depends on ATP generation by glucose oxidation. However, in the context of an oversupply of fatty acids, such chronic nutrient surfeit prevents further increases in ATP production. Increased fatty acid availability inhibits both pyruvate cycling, which is normally increased during an acute increase in glucose availability, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, the major rate-limiting enzyme of glucose oxidation (63). Fatty acids have been shown to inhibit β-cell proliferation in vitro by induction of the cell cycle inhibitors p16 and p18, and this effect is magnified by increased glucose concentration (64). This antiproliferative effect is specifically prevented by small interfering RNA knockdown of the inhibitors. In the Zucker diabetic fatty rat, a genetic model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, the onset of hyperglycemia is preceded by a rapid increase in pancreatic fat (58). It is particularly noteworthy that the onset of diabetes in this genetic model is completely preventable by restriction of food intake (65), illustrating the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. This is in contrast to diabetes mellitus type 1 in which there is an absolute insulin deficiency due to destruction of islet cells in the pancreas and gestational diabetes mellitus that is a new onset of high blood sugars associated with pregnancy. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can typically be distinguished based on the presenting circumstances. If the diagnosis is in doubt antibody testing may be useful to confirm type 1 diabetes and C-peptide levels may be useful to confirm type 2 diabetes, with C-peptide levels normal or high in type 2 diabetes, but low in type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is more common than type 1 diabetes with about 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes having T2D. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the US population have diabetes.1 More alarming, an estimated 84 million more American adults have prediabetes, which if not treated, will advance to diabetes within five years.1
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In countries using a general practitioner system, such as the United Kingdom, care may take place mainly outside hospitals, with hospital-based specialist care used only in case of complications, difficult blood sugar control, or research projects. In other circumstances, general practitioners and specialists share care in a team approach. Home telehealth support can be an effective management technique.
Together with evidence of normalization of insulin secretion after bariatric surgery (84), insights into the behavior of the liver and pancreas during hypocaloric dieting lead to a hypothesis of the etiology and pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes (Fig. 6): The accumulation of fat in liver and secondarily in the pancreas will lead to self-reinforcing cycles that interact to bring about type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver leads to impaired fasting glucose metabolism and increases export of VLDL triacylglycerol (85), which increases fat delivery to all tissues, including the islets. The liver and pancreas cycles drive onward after diagnosis with steadily decreasing β-cell function. However, of note, observations of the reversal of type 2 diabetes confirm that if the primary influence of positive calorie balance is removed, then the processes are reversible (21).
Diabetes means your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth.
Though it may be transient, untreated GDM can damage the health of the fetus or mother. Risks to the baby include macrosomia (high birth weight), congenital heart and central nervous system abnormalities, and skeletal muscle malformations. Increased levels of insulin in a fetus's blood may inhibit fetal surfactant production and cause infant respiratory distress syndrome. A high blood bilirubin level may result from red blood cell destruction. In severe cases, perinatal death may occur, most commonly as a result of poor placental perfusion due to vascular impairment. Labor induction may be indicated with decreased placental function. A caesarean section may be performed if there is marked fetal distress or an increased risk of injury associated with macrosomia, such as shoulder dystocia.
Managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and quitting smoking if you smoke, are important ways to manage your type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes that include planning healthy meals, limiting calories if you are overweight, and being physically active are also part of managing your diabetes. So is taking any prescribed medicines. Work with your health care team to create a diabetes care plan that works for you.
Although a close relationship exists among raised liver fat levels, insulin resistance, and raised liver enzyme levels (52), high levels of liver fat are not inevitably associated with hepatic insulin resistance. This is analogous to the discordance observed in the muscle of trained athletes in whom raised intramyocellular triacylglycerol is associated with high insulin sensitivity (53). This relationship is also seen in muscle of mice overexpressing the enzyme DGAT-1, which rapidly esterifies diacylglycerol to metabolically inert triacylglycerol (54). In both circumstances, raised intracellular triacylglycerol stores coexist with normal insulin sensitivity. When a variant of PNPLA3 was described as determining increased hepatic fat levels, it appeared that a major factor underlying nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance was identified (55). However, this relatively rare genetic variant is not associated with hepatic insulin resistance (56). Because the responsible G allele of PNPLA3 is believed to code for a lipase that is ineffective in triacylglycerol hydrolysis, it appears that diacylglycerol and fatty acids are sequestered as inert triacylglycerol, preventing any inhibitory effect on insulin signaling.
Family physicians play a key role in managing care and supporting people with diabetes throughout the lifespan. The Diabetes Canada guideline features numerous recommendations that are specific to stages in the lifespan and the cultural contexts of people with diabetes. Specific chapters detail issues relevant to children, women of childbearing age, functionally dependent or frail elderly, as well as Indigenous peoples; we encourage providers to review the key messages and recommendations from these chapters. Diabetes Canada has handouts in French (guidelines.diabetes.ca/ressourcesfrancaises) and Chinese (guidelines.diabetes.ca/chinese), covering, for example, dietary options for people with a range of backgrounds, and additional cultural adaptations are forthcoming. Diabetes Canada also offers a toll-free number (1 800 BANTING), as well as a resource manual (guidelines.diabetes.ca/financial-support-and-services), to support patients with diabetes who have low income or other need to identify local resources and services that might be helpful.
MySugr aims to make diabetes “suck less” by syncing with other devices to help you monitor vital numbers such as weight, basal rates, and sugar levels. Make sure you’re logging data by setting up reminders that appear on your phone. This can help you stay on top of your condition and report critical facts to your doctor. The pro version of the app can be activated at no charge with some Accu-Chek devices when ordered through mySugr, or you can pay the $2.99 monthly or $27.99 yearly subscription.