While many are familiar with the idea of diabetes – a condition with which the body either doesn’t produce insulin or cannot effectively use its insulin – they may not know that there are distinct types of diabetes.
Whether you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes or are simply looking to expand your knowledge on the topic, find more information about prediabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
Prediabetes: Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84 million American adults — more than 1 out of 3 — have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The good news is that if you have prediabetes, you can prevent developing type 2 diabetes!
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes:
- Having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes
- Age. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but appears in peaks in children 4-7 years old and 10-14 years old.
Being very tired
Having blurry vision
Feeling very thirsty
Feeling very hungry
Losing weight, even though you are eating more
Testing for type 1 diabetes is done through a blood test at your doctor’s office. If you have any of the symptoms or risk factors listed, please contact your doctor right away.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the Diabetes Self-Management Education Support & Training (DSMES/T) Program can help. Check out more information on this program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information and articles specific to type 1 diabetes.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is a great resource for type 1 diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, however, there is either not enough insulin or it doesn't work properly in the body. When there is not enough insulin, or the insulin is not used as it should be, sugar cannot get into the body's cells for use as energy. This causes blood sugar to rise. Type 2 diabetes is most common in people over age 45 who are overweight. Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage it by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others might also need to take oral or injectable medications or insulin.
Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Older age
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
- History of having Gestational Diabetes
- Not getting enough exercise
- Being of African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
Some people have type 2 diabetes and don’t even know it. There are not always symptoms present. Some symptoms a person may experience include:
- Increased thirst
- Being more hungry
- Feeling very tired
- Having darkened areas of the skin, usually in the armpits and neck
- Urinating more often
- Having blurry vision
- Having wounds that are slow to heal or having infections often
Testing for type 2 diabetes can be done through a blood test at your doctor’s office. Assess your risk for type 2 diabetes..
Treatment for managing type 2 diabetes comes in many forms and in many combinations. Some people need to use insulin, while others use oral medications, however, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and exercise. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the Diabetes Self-Management Education Support & Training (DSMES/T) Program can help. Check out more information on this program here and to find a DSMES/T location near you click here.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when a woman’s blood sugar is higher than normal during pregnancy. Usually, the body can make more insulin during pregnancy to keep blood sugar normal, but in some women the body cannot make enough insulin during pregnancy, and blood sugar levels go up leading to gestational diabetes. Having gestational diabetes increases a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of the child someday developing type 2 diabetes.
Several risk factors are linked to gestational diabetes. It can occur in women who have no risk factors, but it is more likely in women who:
- are overweight or obese
- are physically inactive
- had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- had a very large baby (9 pounds or more) in a previous pregnancy
- have high blood pressure
- have a history of heart disease
- have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- are of African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Island background
Often, there are no symptoms of having gestational diabetes. Your doctor will do a blood test near the 24th week of pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes.
When a woman has gestational diabetes, her body passes more sugar to her fetus than it needs. With too much sugar, her fetus can gain a lot of weight. A large fetus (weighing 9 pounds or more) can lead to complications for the woman, including
- labor difficulties
- cesarean delivery
- heavy bleeding after delivery
- severe tears in the vagina or the area between the vagina and the anus with a vaginal birth
Management of gestational diabetes includes testing your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, and getting exercise. Some women need to use insulin, too.
Diabetes During Pregnancy: What is Gestational Diabetes? American Diabetes Association video
Get more information on gestational diabetes.