Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease marked by abnormally high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Nearly 26 million Americans live with diabetes and another 79 million are at risk for developing it. The Bronx has been especially hard hit—more than one in 10 adults in the borough have diabetes. Montefiore Medical Center's Clinical Diabetes Center is on the front lines of the diabetes epidemic, providing comprehensive care for patients with:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults but can develop at any age. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin?the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. People with type 1diabetes must take insulin every day because their bodies produce little or no insulin.

Symptoms of type 1diabetes may occur suddenly and can include frequent urination, unusual thirst, increased hunger, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision. The exact cause of the autoimmune reaction that triggers type 1 diabetes is unknown. Genetics, exposure to certain viruses, and other factors may be involved.

Treatment for type 1diabetes includes taking insulin and sometimes other medications, monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 is by far the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body either can't make enough of the hormone insulin or cannot use it effectively. Insulin is needed to move sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells. When glucose cannot enter cells, high levels of it build up in the blood. An abnormally high blood glucose level, known as hyperglycemia, can be toxic to cells. If chronic hyperglycemia is not treated, it can lead to serious complications such as kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.

People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age. Symptoms may include fatigue, frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, mood changes, nausea and vomiting, and slow healing of wounds or sores. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms and therefore do not realize they have the disease.

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes isn't known, but genetic and lifestyle factors play a role in the development of the disease. Being overweight and inactive increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as does having a parent or sibling with the disease. Learn more about other risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Treatment for type 2 diabetes typically includes medication or insulin therapy, healthy eating, regular exercise, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and (for many people) taking aspirin daily.

Read more in our patient health library about how people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can help keep their blood sugar in check.