There are two main classes of diabetes – diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. All diabetes illnesses are classified by the general symptoms of excessive urination (polyuria) and increased thirst (polydipsia), but the causes of the two types of diabetes are very different.
Diabetes insipidus is relatively uncommon; only affecting 3 in 100,000. Its symptoms are dehydration as a result of excessive urination, ultimately caused by a lack of ADH (antidiuretic hormone). Diabetes mellitus is far more common and can be subdivided into the two well known forms of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Diabetes mellitus is measured by elevated fasting blood glucose (>126mg/dl).
Type 1 diabetes is caused by pancreatic failure to produce insulin. This is usually diagnosed in childhood and isn’t preventable. Type 1 diabetes is treated using insulin injections which are key to maintaining and regulating blood sugar levels. Of the 35,000 children with diabetes, 96% have type 1 diabetes and the other 4% are a mixture of type 2 and rare alternative forms of diabetic disease. Worldwide, of all diabetes diagnoses approximately 10% are type 1 and 90% are type 2. Type 1 diabetes seems to affect boys slightly more than girls: in the UK 52% of type 1 diabetic diagnoses are male and 48% are female.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by developing a resistance to insulin – usually caused by high blood sugar levels and dietary factors. Women are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men. Type 2 diabetes is managed by medication and in some cases insulin can help. In 2012, worldwide 382 million people were diagnosed with diabetes with a further 175 million estimated to be undiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that the number of people with diabetes will increase to 592 million by 2035.
6% of the UK population has diabetes – 3.2 million diagnosed and an estimated 630,000 undiagnosed. This is also expected to rise, to 5 million by 2025. Key changes to reducing the number of diabetes cases include encouraging healthy diets and increasing exercise. Both of these help maintain a normal weight and decrease obesity which has been linked to increased incidence of diabetes. Smoking has also been shown to be linked to an increased incidence of diabetes. People with diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Deaths worldwide caused by diabetes have been increasing steadily reaching 1.5 million deaths per year in 2012.