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2024-06-24 21:22:22

What Are the Types of Diabetes?

You've probably heard of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes — characterized by problems with blood sugar — but did you know that there are others? Yes, diabetes mellitus can come in many forms. In this blog, we talk about the various types of diabetes, what they look like, who might be at an increased risk of developing diabetes, and more.

The Various Kinds of Diabetes

There are several types of diabetes:

Let's talk briefly about each of these.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that has no cure. This happens when the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin. Making insulin is important because the body uses the insulin hormone to allow glucose (sugar) into the body's cells to produce energy.

Therefore, you have to produce enough insulin to have healthy blood sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

In the case of type 2 diabetes, the pancreas will produce insulin at very low levels, causing too much sugar to stay in the blood. So, blood sugar levels go up. This can ultimately lead to problems with your circulatory, immune, and nervous systems.

It’s possible to reverse it through lifestyle changes, like losing weight. This is most likely to be successful when the condition is in its earlier stage and the pancreas still produces enough insulin. However, uncontrolled diabetes that goes on for too long can eventually cause the pancreas to “burn out” so that the person depends on outside insulin, like with type 1 diabetes.

Neonatal Diabetes

This is caused by a rare genetic mutation, and the baby experiences constant hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) within the first six months of life. This is because the body can't make and use insulin properly.

Gestational Diabetes

Women experiencing high blood sugar levels during pregnancy might be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It's important to get this under control because gestational diabetes can harm both the mother and the baby.

Pregnant woman holding her belly

Type 3c Diabetes

This type of diabetes happens as a result of damage to the pancreas from something like chronic pancreatitis (i.e., constant inflammation of the pancreas) or cystic fibrosis.

Steroid-induced Diabetes

Certain steroid medications — like Dexamethasone, which is often used in cancer treatment — can raise your blood glucose levels. Thankfully, blood glucose levels should return to normal once the medication is no longer needed.

Cystic Fibrosis Diabetes

As the name suggests, this type of diabetes can happen in people suffering from cystic fibrosis. It happens because the condition causes chronic mucus that over time damages the pancreas (see above regarding type 3c diabetes). 

Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY)

If you have a family history of MODY, which is the result of a mutation in a single gene, you might be more likely to experience it and be diagnosed before the age of 25. If a parent carries this mutation, their children have a 50% chance of inheriting it, even if they live a healthy lifestyle.

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA)

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is more commonly diagnosed in children, LADA starts in adulthood and gets progressively worse over time. Eventually, the pancreas will no longer make insulin, often because an autoimmune reaction is damaging the cells of the pancreas. 

Wolfram Syndrome

Another example of a rare genetic syndrome associated with diabetes is Wolfram syndrome. While it isn't technically a kind of diabetes, it can include childhood-onset, insulin-dependent diabetes. These individuals can also experience optic atrophy, hearing loss, and autonomic nerve damage.

Insulin pens

Alström Syndrome

Similar to Wolfram syndrome, Alström syndrome is characterized by multi-organ pathology, including diabetes (type 2 diabetes, in this case), cardiomyopathy, renal dysfunction, childhood truncal obesity, short stature in adulthood, and other health complications.

People With Diabetes: How Many Are There?

How common is diabetes?

As of 2021, approximately 38.4 million people (of all ages) in the US had diabetes. That equates to about 11.6% of our population. More specifically, 38.1 million adults (18 years and older) had diabetes. This is about 14.7%.

We could also get more granular and look at the different kinds of diabetes. For example, in the US, six of every 100 pregnant people develop gestational diabetes. As of 2021, about two million people had type 1 diabetes. This included roughly 304,000 adolescents and children. While the research varies and the numbers fluctuate, as many as 21 million adults might have type 2 diabetes.

This makes sense, considering that approximately 8% of Americans live with type 1 diabetes, and a whopping 90% of those diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Who might be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, especially type 2? These are some of the common risk factors:

While medication might be needed to manage diabetes, remember that lifestyle changes can go a long way. Losing weight (if you're overweight), quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and moving your body can make a world of difference in getting a handle on serious health problems associated with diabetes.

Woman doing yoga

Getting Tested and Diagnosed With Diabetes

Do you suspect you might be having blood sugar issues? Do blood glucose problems run in the family? In 2021, diabetes was the eighth leading cause of death, right behind Alzheimer's disease. The promising news is that with early detection and proper treatment, people with diabetes can lead happier, healthier lives.

eNational Testing offers diabetes screening in the form of identification, in addition to our risk profile, which determines your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. Both are blood tests, and results are available in one business day. Should you have follow-up questions, you'll have the opportunity to speak with a clinician afterward.

We have more than 2,000 locations across the nation, and you don't even need to see your primary healthcare provider first.

Living with diabetes can be more manageable than you think. Find a testing center near you or contact us if you have any questions.