Types of Diabetes


The full scientific name of the condition is "diabetes mellitus" and there are various subtypes. Type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes is the classic insulin-requiring severe diabetes of young people, but is less common than Type 2 diabetes or adult diabetes, which typically afflicts overweight over-40's. About 90-95% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes and when many people say "diabetes" they are often referring to Type 2 diabetes. One of the most important early aspects of diabetes diagnosis (and misdiagnosis) is to correctly distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Another type that is common in pregnant women is gestational diabetes. Other types of diabetes that are rare but may be misdiagnosed initially include MODY and other genetic types of diabetes. Secondary diabetes is caused by an underlying condition such as hemochromatosis, PCOS, or other conditions or medications.

Types list: The list of types of Diabetes mentioned in various sources includes:

Statistics about types of Diabetes: The following are statistics from various sources about types of Diabetes:

  • Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 85-90% of all diabetes cases in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2003)
  • Type 1 Diabetes accounts for 10-15% of all diabetes cases in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2003)
  • Type 1 diabetes accounted for 28% of new cases of diabetes in Australia 1999-2002 (The National Diabetes Register, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • Type 2 diabetes accounted for 60% of new cases of diabetes in Australia 1999-2002 (The National Diabetes Register, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • gestational diabetes accounted for 9% of new cases of diabetes in Australia 1999-2002 (The National Diabetes Register, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)

Types discussion: The three main types of diabetes are

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Diabetes is classified into two main types: type 1 and type 2 . Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), affects 5%-10% of those with diabetes and most often occurs during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin- dependent) is the more common type, affecting 90%-95% of those with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs after age 40. 2

An American Diabetes Association expert committee recently recommended a change in the names of the two main types of diabetes because the former names caused confusion. The type of diabetes that was known as Type I, juvenile-onset diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is now type 1 diabetes. The type of diabetes that was known as Type II, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), or adult-onset diabetes is now type 2 diabetes. The new names reflect an effort to move away from basing the names on treatment or age at onset. 3

Type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes. Type 1 diabetes may account for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.4

The three main types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)

  • Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)

  • Gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults and is considered an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease results when the body's system for fighting infection (the immune system) turns against a part of the body. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin, thereby preventing cells from taking up sugar from blood. Someone with type 1 diabetes needs daily injections of insulin to live. She also needs to follow a strict diet and monitor her blood sugar levels.

Symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme tiredness. If not diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person can lapse into a life-threatening coma.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes usually develops in adults over the age of 40 and is most common among adults over age 55. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas usually produces insulin, but for some reason, the body cannot use the insulin effectively. The end result is the same as for type 1 diabetes—an unhealthy buildup of glucose in the blood and an inability of the body to make efficient use of its main source of fuel.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually and are not as noticeable as in type 1 diabetes. Symptoms include feeling tired or ill, frequent urination (especially at night), unusual thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, and slow healing of sores.

Gestational diabetes develops or is discovered during pregnancy. This type usually disappears when the pregnancy is over, but women who have had gestational diabetes have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in their lives. Gestational diabetes occurs in 2 to 5 percent of pregnancies and at higher rates among African Americans, Hispanics/Latino Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.5

1. excerpt from Diabetes Overview: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Facts About Diabetes: CDC-OC
3. excerpt from Diabetes Diagnosis: NIDDK
4. excerpt from Diabetes Statistics in the United States: NIDDK
5. excerpt from Diabetes: NWHIC

Last revision: April 10, 2003

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