What is Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which amount of glucose in the blood crosses the normal level. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose. At this point an organ called pancreas situated near the stomach, makes a hormone known as insulin. Insulin help glucose to get into the cells of our bodies where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, known as insulin resistance. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Polygenic Forms of Diabetes

The most common forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, are polygenic, meaning the risk of developing these forms of diabetes is related to multiple genes. Environmental factors, such as obesity in the case of type 2 diabetes, also play a part in the development of polygenic forms of diabetes. Polygenic forms of diabetes often run in families. Doctors diagnose polygenic forms of diabetes by testing blood glucose in individuals with risk factors or symptoms of diabetes.

Genes provide the instructions for making proteins within the cell. If a gene has a mutation, the protein may not function properly. Genetic mutations that cause diabetes affect proteins that play a role in the ability of the body to produce insulin or in the ability of insulin to lower blood glucose. People have two copies of most genes; one gene is inherited from each parent.

Monogenic Forms of Diabetes

Some rare forms of diabetes result from mutations in a single gene and are called monogenic. Monogenic forms of diabetes account for about 1 to 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in young people. In most cases of monogenic diabetes, the gene mutation is inherited; in the remaining cases the gene mutation develops spontaneously. Most mutations in monogenic diabetes reduce the body’s ability to produce insulin, a protein produced in the pancreas that helps the body use glucose for energy. Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM) and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) are the two main forms of monogenic diabetes. MODY is much more common than NDM. NDM first occurs in newborns and young infants; MODY usually first occurs in children or adolescents but may be mild and not detected until adulthood.

Genetic testing can diagnose most forms of monogenic diabetes. If genetic testing is not performed, people with monogenic diabetes may appear to have one of the polygenic forms of diabetes. When hyperglycemia is first detected in adulthood, type 2 is often diagnosed instead of monogenic diabetes. Some monogenic forms of diabetes can be treated with oral diabetes medications while other forms require insulin injections. A correct diagnosis that allows the proper treatment to be selected should lead to better glucose control and improved health in the long term. Testing of other family members may also be indicated to determine whether they are at risk for diabetes.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness and kidney failure.

Types of Diabetes

Preventing complications