Diabetes is a chronic disease that can happen for the following reasons: your body can’t produce insulin, or your body can’t use the insulin that it produces. (Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in the blood.)
However, not all types of diabetes are the same. We’ll discuss the different types of diabetes in this article.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body no longer produces any insulin at all. It is usually diagnosed in children and teenagers. Around the world, about 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
It is not known at this time what causes type 1 diabetes. People who have a close family member (such as a parent, brother or sister) with type 1 diabetes are at a slightly higher risk of getting the disease. However, other risk factors have not yet been identified.
Because people with type 1 diabetes cannot produce any insulin, they must take insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot make enough insulin, or can’t use the insulin that is released into the body. It is usually diagnosed in middle age or older adulthood; however, it is becoming increasingly common in adolescents and young adults. Around the world, about 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:
- Having a close family member with diabetes (such as a parent, brother or sister)
- Being a member of a high-risk ethnic group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian or African)
- Being overweight, especially if the weight is mostly carried around the tummy
- Not getting enough exercise/physical activity.
Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with lifestyle modifications: this means eating healthy foods, incorporating exercise into your daily activities and losing weight, if needed. However, medications or insulin are sometimes needed, especially for people who have had the disease for some time.
Type 1.5 diabetes
Type 1.5 diabetes is a fairly new classification of diabetes. It is officially known as “latent autoimmune diabetes,” or LADA. While there is still uncertainty among researchers about exactly how to define type 1.5 diabetes, it is believed to be similar to type 1 diabetes.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes type 1.5 diabetes, but the main risk factor at this time appears to be having a close relative with type 1.5 or type 2 diabetes.
Type 1.5 diabetes is often misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes, because it generally occurs in older adults (over 30 years of age) and develops over a longer period of time than type 1 diabetes.
At diagnosis, people with type 1.5 diabetes usually do not require insulin right away because they are still producing some insulin. However, within about six months, they will need to take insulin every day, just as people with type 1 diabetes do.
Prediabetes refers to the condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. About 50% of people who are diagnosed with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.
Because there are often no symptoms associated with prediabetes, it’s important to get tested, especially if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because there are some things people can do to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes; as well, some long-term complications of diabetes – such as heart disease and nerve damage – can actually begin during prediabetes.
The management of prediabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes. The cornerstones are eating healthily, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine and losing weight (if needed). However, sometimes people with prediabetes are prescribed diabetes medication to help lower their blood glucose levels.