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What are the Types of Diabetes?
The three main types of diabetes are
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes, is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults. In this type of diabetes, your pancreas can no longer make insulin because your body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed the cells that make it. Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making wise food choices, being physically active on a regular basis, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and, for some, taking aspirin daily.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease results when the body’s system for fi ghting infection—the immune system—turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.
At present, scientists do not know exactly what causes the body’s immune system to attack the beta cells, but they believe that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors, possibly viruses, are involved. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes in the United States. It develops most often in children and young adults but can appear at any age.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period, although beta cell destruction can begin years earlier. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
Type 2 Diabetes
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, is the most common type of diabetes. About 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older people. People who are overweight and inactive are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
In type 2 and other types of diabetes, you have too much glucose, also called sugar, in your blood. People with diabetes have problems converting food to energy. After a meal, food is broken down into glucose, which is carried by your blood to cells throughout your body. With the help of the hormone insulin, cells absorb glucose from your blood and use it for energy. Insulin is made in the pancreas, an organ located behind the stomach.
Type 2 Diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition linked to excess weight in which your body’s cells do not use insulin properly. As a result, your body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells. At first, your pancreas keeps up with the added demand by producing more insulin. But in time, your pancreas loses its ability to produce enough insulin, and blood glucose levels rise.
Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, leading to problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dental disease, and amputations. Other problems of diabetes may include increased risk of getting other diseases, loss of mobility with aging, depression, and pregnancy problems.
Treatment includes taking diabetes medicines, making wise food choices, being physically active on a regular basis, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and for some, taking aspirin daily.
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 Diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. This form of diabetes is most often associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and certain ethnicities. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
Type 2 Diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents, especially among African American, Mexican American, and Pacific Islander youth.
When type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for unknown reasons the body cannot use the insulin effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. After several years, insulin production decreases. The result is the same as for type 1 diabetes—glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make effi cient use of its main source of fuel.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Their onset is not as sudden as in type 1 diabetes. Symptoms may include fatigue, frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some people have no symptoms.
Some women develop gestational diabetes late in pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually disappears after the birth of the baby, women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. Maintaining a reasonable body weight and being physically active may help prevent development of type 2 diabetes.
About 3 to 8 percent of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes. As with type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs more often in some ethnic groups and among women with a family history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or a shortage of insulin. Women with gestational diabetes may not experience any symptoms.
Diabetes in Youth
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth multicenter study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has determined that
Additional information about specifi c rates of new cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among youth younger than age 20 can be found in the fact sheet National Diabetes Statistics, 2011, available online at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics.
Other Types of Diabetes
A number of other types of diabetes exist. A person may exhibit characteristics of more than one type. For example, in latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), also called type 1.5 diabetes or double diabetes, people show signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Other types of diabetes include those caused by
Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA)
People who have LADA show signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diagnosis usually occurs after age 30. Researchers estimate that as many as 10 percent of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have LADA. Some experts believe that LADA is a slowly developing kind of type 1 diabetes because patients have antibodies against the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
Most people with LADA still produce their own insulin when first diagnosed, like those with type 2 diabetes. In the early stages of the disease, people with LADA do not require insulin injections. Instead, they control their blood glucose levels with meal planning, physical activity, and oral diabetes medications. However, several years after diagnosis, people with LADA must take insulin to control blood glucose levels. As LADA progresses, the beta cells of the pancreas may no longer make insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed them, as in type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes Caused by Genetic Defects of the Beta Cell
Genetic defects of the beta cell cause several forms of diabetes. For example, monogenic forms of diabetes result from mutations, or changes, in a single gene. In most cases of monogenic diabetes, the gene mutation is inherited. In the remaining cases, the gene mutation develops spontaneously. Most mutations in monogenic diabetes reduce the body’s ability to produce insulin. Genetic testing can diagnose most forms of monogenic diabetes.
NDM and MODY are the two main forms of monogenic diabetes. NDM is a form of diabetes that occurs in the first 6 months of life. Infants with NDM do not produce enough insulin, leading to an increase in blood glucose. NDM can be mistaken for the much more common type 1 diabetes, but type 1 diabetes usually occurs after the fi rst 6 months of life. More information about the two types of NDM, permanent neonatal diabetes and transient neonatal diabetes mellitus, is provided in the fact sheet Monogenic Forms of Diabetes, available online from the NDIC at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/mody. For printed copies of the fact sheet, call the NDIC at 1–800–860–8747.
MODY usually first occurs during adolescence or early adulthood. However, MODY sometimes remains undiagnosed until later in life. A number of different gene mutations have been shown to cause MODY, all of which limit the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin. This process leads to the high blood glucose levels characteristic of diabetes. More information about specifi c types of MODY is provided in the fact sheet Monogenic Forms of Diabetes.
Diabetes Caused by Genetic Defects in Insulin Action
A number of types of diabetes result from genetic defects in insulin action. Changes to the insulin receptor may cause mild hyperglycemia—high blood glucose—or severe diabetes. Symptoms may include acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition characterized by darkened skin patches, and, in women, enlarged and cystic ovaries plus virilization and the development of masculine characteristics such as excess facial hair. Two syndromes in children, leprechaunism and the Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome, cause extreme insulin resistance.
Diabetes Caused by Diseases of the Pancreas
Injuries to the pancreas from trauma or disease can cause diabetes. This category includes pancreatitis, infection, and cancer of the pancreas. Cystic fibrosis and hemochromatosis can also damage the pancreas enough to cause diabetes.
Diabetes Caused by Endocrinopathies
Excess amounts of certain hormones that work against the action of insulin can cause diabetes. These hormones and their related conditions include growth hormone in acromegaly, cortisol in Cushing’s syndrome, glucagon in glucagonoma, and epinephrine in pheochromocytoma.
Diabetes Caused by Medications or Chemicals
A number of medications and chemicals can interfere with insulin secretion, leading to diabetes in people with insulin resistance. These medications and chemicals include pentamidine, nicotinic acid, glucocorticoids, thyroid hormone, phenytoin (Dilantin), and Vacor, a rat poison.
Diabetes Caused by Infections
Several infections are associated with the occurrence of diabetes, including congenital rubella, coxsackievirus B, cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, and mumps.
Rare Immune-mediated Types of Diabetes
Some immune-mediated disorders are associated with diabetes. About one-third of people with stiff-man syndrome develop diabetes. In other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, patients may have anti-insulin receptor antibodies that cause diabetes by interfering with the binding of insulin to body tissues.
Other Genetic Syndromes Sometimes Associated with Diabetes
Many genetic syndromes are associated with diabetes. These conditions include Down syndrome, Klinefelter’s syndrome, Huntington’s chorea, porphyria, Prader-Willi syndrome, and diabetes insipidus.
Source: National Diabetes Information Clearing House (NDIC)
Update April 3, 2013
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