Everybody knows what diabetes is, right? It's when your blood sugar gets so high that you qualify to be called a diabetic. If you are a type 2 diabetic, this means that your blood sugar is or has been persistently high at one time, and you don't need to inject insulin to survive, like a type 1 does, and type 1's used to die pretty quickly before insulin injections were invented.
So some type 2's are on insulin but we do generally make our own insulin, and in fact we tend to make too much, not too little, like a type 1. So type 2 is in this sense the opposite of type 1, too much insulin rather than not enough to live.
With type 1 diabetics the immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, the cells that make our insulin, and this is an ugly war that we end up losing. So it's an autoimmune disease, where type 2 isn't, and we actually test people for both insulin secretion and antibodies to see if they have an autoimmune component, and if they do, well we know they are a type 1 of some sort.
There's also type 1.5 as they call it, or LADA, which is a combination of both type 1 and type 2 but is more like type 1 because their immune systems also attack their beta cells, although not as dramatically as a full blown type 1 sees, so things generally take more time to deteriorate and even several years.
So type 1 and type 2 are the major types, and there are also sub types of each, the 1.5 being basically a sub type of type 1, and type 2 has its sub types too, for instance what is called MODY, which is a group of several distinct forms of type 2 basically.
Diabetes is generally considered to be high blood sugar, but in actual fact the high blood sugar is merely a symptom of the disease, whichever one you have, and it's actually a common characteristic of all forms of diabetes mellitus. The diabetes part actually refers to frequent urination, and there's also diabetes insipidus, which does cause a lot of urination too, but in this case you don't get high blood sugar you just get a lot of urination.
The mellitus part is what actually refers to the sugar, so now we have something that makes you urinate a of sugar. Unless you are really uncontrolled though you don't really urinate sugar, but back in the day people didn't have treatments for diabetes and were pretty clueless about it, and people with diabetes mellitus did urinate a lot of sugar, so that's where the name came from.
So we're less clueless now but not by as big of a margin as a lot of people think, which I will be getting into more as the discussion progresses.
So with this simple stuff out of the way, next time I'll be talking about what type 2 diabetes is in particular, and the general view is definitely pretty off base.