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arrow What is Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

28 December 2006

Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environment appear to play roles. There are two major types of diabetes:

Insulin-Dependent (type 1).

An autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive.

Non-Insulin-Dependent (type 2).

A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough or properly use insulin, it is the most common form of the disease.

Who Is At Greater Risk For Type 1 Diabetes?

  • Siblings of people with type 1 diabetes.


  • Children of parents with type 1 diabetes.


  • Who Is At Greater Risk For Type 2 Diabetes?

  • People with a family history of diabetes.


  • People who are overweight.


  • People who do not exercise regularly.


  • Women who have had a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds at birth.


  • Warning Signs Of Diabetes

    Type 1 Diabetes:
  • Frequent urination.

  • Unusual thirst.

  • Extreme hunger.

  • Unusual weight loss.

  • Extreme fatigue.

  • Irritability.


  • Type 2 Diabetes:
    Any of the type 1 symptoms, plus...
  • Frequent infections.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal.

  • Tingling/numbness in the hands or feet.

  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections.


  • Profile Of The Diagnosed

    There are nearly 1.2 million people in Malaysia who have diabetes. Diabetes is actually a general term for a number of separate but related disorders. These disorders fall into two main categories:

  • type 1, which usually occurs during childhood or adolescence, and

  • type 2, the most common form of the disease, usually occurring after age 30.


  • What is type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes?

    Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes is a disease which results from the body's failure to produce insulin -- the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them.

    This is most often the result of an autoimmune process in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Since glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood and the body's cells literally starve to death.

    People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections and regularly monitor blood sugar levels.

    There are an estimated 24,000 people with type 1 diabetes in Malaysia today.

    The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is higher than virtually all other severe chronic diseases of childhood.

    Peak incidence occurs during puberty, around 10 to 12 years old in girls and 12 to 14 years old in boys. The symptoms for type 1 diabetes can mimic the flu in children.

    Type 1 diabetes tends to run in families. Brothers and sisters of children with insulin-dependent diabetes have about a 10% chance, or a 20-fold increased risk, of developing the disease.

    The identical twin of a person with insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes has at least 50 times the risk of developing type 1 diabetes than a child in an unaffected family.

    In type 1 diabetes, incidence is highest among whites. Scandinavian countries have the highest incidence in the world, approximately 30 cases per 100,000 children.

    What is type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes?

    Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes results from the body's inability to make enough or properly use insulin. Often type 2 diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise alone, but sometimes these are not enough and either oral medications or insulin must be used.

    The fact that few people with type 2 diabetes require insulin has led to the myth that this is a "mild" form of the disease.

    Of the nearly 1.2 million Malaysians with diabetes, more than 98% have type 2 diabetes.

    People with type 2 diabetes often develop the disease after age 30, but are not aware they have diabetes until treated for one of its serious complications.

    The risk for type 2 diabetes increases with age.

    Studies indicate that diabetes is generally under reported on death certificates, particularly in the cases of older persons with multiple chronic conditions such as heart disease and hypertension. Because of this, the toll of diabetes is believed to be much higher than officially reported.

    Diabetes In Youth

    How Are Young People Affected?

    The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is higher than virtually all other severe chronic diseases of childhood.

    Peak incidence occurs during puberty, around 10 to 12 years old in girls and 12 to 14 years old in boys.

    Type 1 diabetes tends to run in families. Brothers and sisters of children with type 1 diabetes have about a 10 percent chance, or a 20-fold increased risk, of developing the disease.

    The identical twin of a person with type 1 diabetes has at least 50 times the risk of developing type 1 diabetes than a child in an unaffected family.

    In type 1 diabetes, incidence is highest among whites. Scandinavian countries have the highest incidence in the world, approximately 30 cases per 100,000 children.

    The symptoms for type 1 diabetes can mimic the flu in children.

    Diabetes And Seniors

    How Are Seniors Affected?

    Diabetes prevalence increases with increasing age.

    Approximately half of all diabetes cases occur in people older than 55.

    People with diabetes are more likely to be institutionalized in nursing homes than are people without diabetes.



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