Diabetes is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, that is to say an excess of sugar in the blood and therefore a glucose level (glycemia) too high. Discover in this article and in the video below everything there is to know about type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent): causes, symptoms, treatments, risk factors, screening …
Find this video in our playlist dedicated to the fundamentals of diabetes on our official Youtube channel.

Definition: what is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder of the assimilation, use and storage of sugars provided by food. This results in a high level of glucose in the blood (also called glycemia): we speak of hyperglycemia.

Foods are composed of lipids (fats), proteins (animal or vegetable proteins) and carbohydrates (sugars, starches). They are the ones who provide most of the energy the body needs to function, pass through the intestine and then into the bloodstream.

When we eat, the blood sugar level increases, the carbohydrates are then transformed mainly into glucose. The pancreas detects an increase in blood sugar. Beta cells in the pancreas, grouped into clusters called islets of Langerhans, secrete insulin. Insulin works as a key, it allows glucose to enter the cells of the organism: in muscles, adipose tissue and in the liver where it can be transformed and stored. Glucose then decreases in the blood.
Another hormone, glucagon, makes it possible to release the glucose stored in the liver, outside meals, during a drop in energy or a drop in blood sugar,
It is the balance of these hormones that keeps blood sugar levels stable in the body. In the case of diabetes, this regulatory system does not work.
New: Training for health professionals. The Federation offers training on the different types of diabetes

Examination and diagnosis: how do you know if you have diabetes?

A blood glucose test is performed in the medical analysis laboratory. Diabetes is known when the fasting blood sugar is equal to or higher than 1.26 g / l twice or equal or higher than 2 g / l at any time of the day.

The two types of diabetes

There are mainly two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes which affects around 6% of diabetics and type 2 diabetes which affects 92%. The other types of diabetes concern the remaining 2% (MODY, LADA or diabetes secondary to certain diseases or taking medication).

Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes or IDD)

Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD), is usually discovered in young people: children, adolescents or young adults.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes
Symptoms are usually intense thirst, abundant urine, rapid weight loss. This diabetes results from the disappearance of beta cells from the pancreas resulting in a total insulin deficiency.

The body no longer recognizes and destroys these beta cells (beta cells are destroyed by antibodies and immune cells, lymphocytes, made by the body): type 1 diabetes is said to be a disease autoimmune. As glucose cannot enter cells, it returns to the blood. The blood glucose level then rises.

Causes of type 1 diabetes
It is not known why this destruction of the islets of Langerhans occurs, why in some people and not in others. There is a genetic (familial) predisposition but the other causes are not well known. The environment would also have a role.
Treatment of type 1 diabetes
The body no longer produces insulin, the only treatment currently is the supply of insulin:

either as injections (injection of insulin with a syringe or pen),
either with an insulin pump (pump therapy), a portable or implantable device designed to deliver insulin continuously.

Diabetes and inheritance

The weight of heredity differs depending on whether it is type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. When one of the parents is type 2 diabetic, the risk of transmission to the offspring is around 40% and if both parents are affected, the risk increases to 70%. In type 1 diabetes, the risk is between 4 and 8%, more precisely 8% if the father is diabetic, 4% if it is the mother (but 30% if both parents are). It is therefore useful to build a family tree to identify members of your diabetic family and know your genetic heritage.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

There is not a specific cause but a set of contributing factors:

a genetic origin: the family factor is completely preponderant. A history of similar diabetes is often present in the family;
an unbalanced diet, lack of physical activity, overweight …
What is the treatment for type 2 diabetes?
It is first treated by hygieno-detetic measures, then we quickly resort to oral and / or injectable anti-diabetic treatments whose effectiveness is only optimal if they are associated with a balanced diet and activity regular physical.

Since type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, after the progressive increase in anti-diabetic drugs (therapeutic escalation), insulin injections will be offered as a supplement to the patient when the insulin deficiency becomes too great.

Complications of diabetes

The goal of treatment in both types of diabetes is to normalize blood sugar: repeated and prolonged hyperglycemia cause long-term damage to the nerves and blood vessels throughout the body. These are the complications of diabetes that can result in blindness, foot damage that can lead to amputations, heart attacks and strokes, erectile dysfunction or kidney failure.


The two main types of diabetes are different diseases but are characterized by excess blood sugar and must be taken seriously and treated effectively. There are no “little diabetics” or more serious diabetes than others.

Despite medical research that advances every day, diabetes remains a disease that can be treated very well but that cannot be cured. It is therefore necessary, all your life, to monitor yourself, keep good eating habits, practice physical activity and take your treatment regularly. A diabetic can therefore be a healthy patient! YES to the quality of life!

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