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What is diabetes and what different types are there?

Rol de la cirugía bariátrica/metabólica en el manejo de la diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps regulate blood sugar levels by facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells for energy production.

If you have diabetes, you may find your blood sugar levels are easier to manage and that you need less diabetes medicine after you lose weight. Bariatric surgery offers a multifaceted approach to managing diabetes in obese individuals, addressing both weight loss and metabolic factors, you can read our post called Bariatric surgery in the management of diabetes mellitus.

There are several types of diabetes, including:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: This type occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. As a result, the body produces little to no insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically develops in childhood or adolescence, although it can occur at any age. People with type 1 diabetes require lifelong insulin therapy to manage their blood sugar levels.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes (Mellitus): Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for the majority of cases. It develops when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, or when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to meet the body’s needs. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet. While it used to be more common in older adults, it is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents due to rising obesity rates.
  3. Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by high blood sugar levels that develop or are first recognized during pregnancy. It can pose risks to both the mother and the baby if not properly managed. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after childbirth, but women who have had it are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  4. Prediabetes: Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. However, without intervention, people with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke.
  5. Other Types: There are also other, less common types of diabetes, such as monogenic diabetes (caused by mutations in a single gene), cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, and diabetes caused by certain medications or diseases of the pancreas.

Managing diabetes typically involves lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise, as well as medications (including insulin) to help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent complications. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, along with routine medical care, is essential for effectively managing diabetes and reducing the risk of long-term complications.