Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you become diabetic at any age?"
In my early twenties and have a bit of a weight problem. Am I at risk for diabetes? Does it only happen when you get older or can you get it at any time?
Yes, diabetes can happen at any age. You should speak with your primary care physician regarding your risk factors for diabetes and possible preventions. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which glucose is not metabolized correctly and results in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). There are two main types of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) - Type 1 and Type 2. 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 testing for autoantibodies may be helpful in diagnosing Type 1 DM. Because this type involves an absolute insulin deficiency, insulin supplementation is required. Type 1 DM is usually diagnosed in childhood, but there is an adult onset variation. 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 and obesity and can often be prevented through exercise and diet and lifestyle changes. Because there is not an absolute insulin deficiency, often patients with Type 2 DM can use oral hypoglycemics instead of requiring injected insulin therapy. You should follow up with your primary care doctor to discuss your risk factors including family history and obesity and to brainstorm prevention techniques.