Types of Diabetes

“In the general public Diabetes often equals with Type 2 Diabetes, ergo it is all about being fat. This is a wrong misconception.”

Technically speaking the general public is aware of only three types of Diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, Gestational Diabetes), however in reality we can define at least seven different types.

Especially since the word Diabetes refers both to Diabetes Insipidus and Diabetes Mellitus. They both have similar symptoms such as the increased thirst and frequent urination, however these are completely different in terms of mechanism.

Both cause large amounts of urine to be produced (polyuria). However, Diabetes Insipidus is either a problem with the production of antidiuretic hormone (Central Diabetes Insipidus) or the kidney’s response to antidiuretic hormone (Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus), whereas Diabetes Mellitus causes polyuria via a process called osmotic diuresis, due to the high blood sugar leaking into the urine and taking excess water along with it.

Still, the main and most important distinction is that the urine of Diabetes Insipidus patients does not contain glucose.

For this reason we have to separate Diabetes Insipidus, which is caused by either hormonal or kidney problems from Diabetes Mellitus.

So let’s see the six different types of Diabetes Mellitus:

  • Type 1, is the juvenile Diabetes. It usually effects children in a very early age.
  • Type 1.5, also called as LADA, is a form of Diabetes Type 1 that occurs in adults.
  • Pre-Diabetes, when the blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Type 2, usually effects elderly and obese people.
  • Type 3, is a proposed term for Alzheimer’s disease resulting in an insulin resistance in the brain.
  • Gestational Diabetes, which affects females during pregnancy.

Interestingly from the 422 million people all around the World suffering from Diabetes almost 90% has Type 2 Diabetes. And maybe this is the exact reason why many people have a wrong understanding about this complex disease.

In the general public Diabetes often equals with Type 2 Diabetes, ergo it is all about being fat. This is a wrong misconception.

It is even true for medical experts, since distinguishing between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes is not always easy, as it often requires relatively sophisticated laboratory tests for pancreas function.

It is also the reason why distinct global estimates of Diabetes prevalence for Type 1 and Type 2 do not exist.

Type 1 Diabetes previously known as Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), Juvenile or Childhood-onset Diabetes, is characterized by deficient insulin production in the body. Type 1 Diabetes results from the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin. The cause is unknown.

People with Type 1 Diabetes always require daily administration of insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in their blood. If they do not have access to insulin, they cannot survive.

The cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not known and it is currently not preventable. Symptoms include excessive urination and thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.

Type 1.5 Diabetes, often called as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA). It is a condition in which Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus develops in adults. Adults with LADA are frequently initially misdiagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, based on age rather than etiology.

Pre-Diabetes indicates a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Many people destined to develop Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus spend many years in a state of Pre-Diabetes.

It is very important to mention here two serious conditions, the Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) and the Impaired Fasting Glycaemia (IFG). They are both intermediate conditions in the transition between normal blood glucose levels and Diabetes (especially Type 2), though the transition is not inevitable.

People with Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Impaired Fasting Glycaemia are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Type 2 Diabetes is formerly called Non-Insulin-Dependent or Adult-onset Diabetes, it results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people with Diabetes around the world.

The Type 2 Diabetes begins with insulin resistance in the body, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. For this reason the symptoms may be similar to those of Type 1 Diabetes, but are often less marked or absent.

As a result, the disease may go undiagnosed for several years, until complications have already arisen.

While the cause of Type 1 Diabetes is still unknown, the primary cause of Type 2 Diabetes is excessive body weight and not enough exercise.

For many years Type 2 Diabetes was seen only in adults but it has begun to occur in children. Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 3 Diabetes is a proposed term for Alzheimer’s disease resulting in an insulin resistance in the brain.

The discovery of the relation between the increased insulin resistance in the brain and the Alzheimer’s is relatively new, only known since 2005.

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy and carries long-term risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

The condition is present when blood glucose values are above normal but still below those diagnostic of Diabetes.

Women with gestational Diabetes are at increased risk of some complications during pregnancy and delivery, as are their infants.

Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed through prenatal screening, rather than reported symptoms.


Researched, collected and written by Zsolt Szemerszky

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