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"Are you born with diabetes or do you develop it?"

ZocdocAnswersAre you born with diabetes or do you develop it?


Don?t understand diabetes. Do you get it over time or are you born with it? I?m overweight and was told I could get diabetes, but if I wasn?t born with it, how would I get it? I don?t understand the difference. Are there different kinds?


You are right that there are two different kinds of diabetes and the differences can be confusing. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a condition in which glucose is not metabolized correctly and results in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). There are two main types of DM - Type 1 and Type 2. Diabetes can be diagnosed at any age. Your primary care physician can help discuss symptoms, treatment, and consequences of diabetes. Type 1 DM is due to destruction of the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin, resulting in an absolute insulin deficiency. This is most commonly autoimmune in nature and is usually diagnosed in childhood, but there is a form of adult onset Type 1 DM. Insulin is a hormone that is made and secreted by pancreatic beta cells and is essential in the metabolism of glucose. Without insulin, glucose cannot be used by the body and builds up in the blood, thus leading to high blood sugar levels. Type 2 DM is the most common form of diabetes and is due to a combination of both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. It is highly related to excess weight since obesity itself causes increased insulin resistance (meaning you need more insulin to have the same effect on blood glucose). Having a sedentary lifestyle with minimal exercise and an unbalanced diet also can hasten the progression to diabetes. Exercise actually improves insulin resistance. Thus, you are not born with diabetes, but rather develop it over time. However, genetics also play a large role in the likelihood of development of DM. You should follow up with your primary care physician to discuss your risk factors and need for preventive treatment such as diet and exercise to help slow the progression toward Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

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