What is Diabetes?

Anyone can get diabetes, regardless of age, ethnicity, weight or family history. Diabetes is a complex, chronic disease, but there is good news: it is manageable! Dana Dopita, RN, St. Mark’s Diabetes Center Coordinator explains what is diabetes and difference between type 1, type 2, gestational and prediabetes.

My name is Dana Dopita. I’m a registered nurse, and also I’m a certified diabetes educator,and I’ve been practicing here at St.  Marks Hospital for over 20 years and then here at the diabetes center about seven years.

So, diabetes, it’s a chronic disease. That means it’s a longstanding disease,and we really do not have cure for the illness. And it’s caused, or as you know, when you go to your doctor, then the doctor tells you that you had high blood sugar. And you had really large amount of sugar in your bloodstream, and it is caused by your body not making enough or your pancreas, it’s a little organ behind your stomach, not making enough insulin.

Or your own insulin is having a really hard time to keep the blood sugar in a normal range. The way that we classify, or we have four different types of diabetes. The first one, it’s called type 1 diabetes. That’s when the pancreas totally quits and makes no insulin, and those people are fully depending on the insulin from outside to keep the blood sugar in a normal range.

So, those people have to take injections up to four times a day. They wear insulin pumps. And they can control their diabetes perfectly. It’s just they are totally depending on the insulin from outside. Type 2 diabetes, it’s another type. We have about 90 to 95% of people with diabetes, they have type 2 diabetes.

And what is happening in their body is then their pancreas usually makes less insulin or plus on the top of it, their own insulin is having harder time to do the job. And we call it a big word. It’s called insulin resistance. But I kind of use my own analogy, and I say your own cells are stubborn and not allowing your existing insulin to help you to keep the blood glucose levels in normal ranges.

The other type of diabetes, it’s diabetes during pregnancy. It’s called gestational diabetes. And those women usually, they have plenty of insulin on board, but what is happening,again, their own insulin is having a really difficult time to keep the blood sugar in the normal range. And the other one which we know we have about almost 80 million people in the United States, they are in prediabetes.

Those patients or those people still making plenty of insulin, but again, the insulin is having more difficult time to help them to keep the blood glucose levels in normal ranges. Those are the types we know of, we have listed, and that’s what the medical community tells us we have. Each of those persons or people with the disease,they will say they also have their own progression or own type of diseases. We have many different, maybe, subgroups. We have one, it’s called the latentau to immune diabetes of adults. It happens people, like later in their lives,and they totally act like people who have type 1 diabetes.