Types of Diabetes

May 03,2019 |

What is Diabetes and What Are the Different Types?

Anyone that has diabetes understands what it is because it is often a life or death situation if you don’t. Diabetes is a serious, yet manageable disease, but you need to stay educated if you want to stay healthy and keep a safe blood glucose level. Besides a few exceptions, most people without diabetes don’t understand it fully. This makes a new diagnosis in yourself or a family member scary. The more you understand about something, the easier it is to cope with.

Whether you’ve just received a new diagnosis or you want to brush up on the science behind diabetes, you’ve come to the right place. As with everything, starting at the basics is essential. So what exactly is diabetes and what are the different types?

What is Diabetes?

The easiest way to get a full picture of what diabetes is involves looking at it from a number of different angles. Learning terminology is great, but it needs to be applied to circumstantial situations to be best understood. The same is said about learning the underlying causes of diabetes.

What Causes Diabetes?

Everyone needs glucose for his or her body to function. It gets broken down, reworked by the pancreas, and released so your cells have the food and energy they need to do their job. In some people, however, the system fails. Diabetes is when, for whatever reason, this system doesn’t work properly

Depending on the type of diabetes, your body either can’t make insulin or makes ineffective insulin. Both result in a failure of glucose to be absorbed into your cells4. The underlying reason behind this is still foggy, but genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices all play a part.

A lot of doctors point to lifestyle choices as the main preventable cause of Type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity, diet, and more all contribute to your susceptibility.

How Common is Diabetes?

Diabetes is more common than you’d think, as many cases continue to go undiagnosed. However, it is estimated that there are about 415 million people living with diabetes today, or about 1 in 11 adults5. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form in adults today and accounts for close to 90% of all cases5.

Health Problems Associated with Diabetes

Over time, untreated diabetes leads to a number of health problems. High blood glucose levels aren’t ideal for your body’s homeostasis and often leads to issues such as6:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye problems
  • Dental disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot problems
  • Sexual and bladder problems

Preventing these from occurring is possible with careful treatment and a healthy lifestyle plan. To learn more, visit this website or talk to your doctor during your next check up. They will be able to help you determine the best course of action based on your specific numbers, tests, and history.

The Different Types of Diabetes

As the years progress, doctors are reimagining the diabetic world. Research is ongoing to try and find a cure, or at least a less intrusive treatment option. With that research there have been a number of accounts of rare forms of diabetes that often result from a specific condition1. Since these types of diabetes only account for a very small amount of cases (1% to 5%)1, we’ve omitted them in this article.

If you’re interested in learning more about the rare forms of diabetes, check out this article. For now, we’ll focus on the two most common types of diabetes along with two “types” of diabetes that should be tested for.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system launches an attack against the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.2 Doctors still aren’t 100% sure why this happens, due of the mystery of the immune system, but believe that it’s from a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.

When the immune system keeps attacking insulin-producing beta cells it creates antibodies and then aims to destroy them2. While this sounds aggressive, it’s often easy to test for. In fact, this process begins prior to many people’s diagnosis—making it possible to identify people at risk for developing Type 1 diabetes2.

As this process continues over time, the pancreas becomes unable to produce insulin at a fast enough rate and Type 1 diabetes symptoms appear. The symptoms for Type 1 include2:

  • High blood glucose levels
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Hunger and thirst
  • Large deposits of ketones in the urine and blood

To allow the glucose in the blood to be transformed into cells for food and energy, you need insulin. Without it, the cells begin to starve. This is why diabetic people need to regularly monitor their blood glucose level and self-administer insulin shots.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is much more common than Type 1 and is not caused by an autoimmune attack2. Type 2 diabetes is caused by an overall insulin resistance paired with inadequate insulin production2 and is linked more to genetics and lifestyle choices.

When your body doesn’t respond to insulin adequately, your cells lose out on the glucose needed for both immediate and delayed cellular energy. This creates an imbalance between blood glucose levels and cellular glucose levels, which is usually controlled by the pancreas and other internal organs.

In Type 2 diabetes the pancreas gets worn out. Over time, it loses the ability to produce the extra insulin your body needs to compensate for the decreased effectiveness of your body’s natural insulin production2.

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes is often more advanced, as doctors aim to target the underlying insulin resistance problem while simultaneously making sure you’re getting enough insulin.

In this type of diabetes, lifestyle choices play a large role in how well your body manages its natural insulin production. It should also be mentioned that it is possible to have both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a licensed medical practitioner.

Gestational Diabetes

In addition to the two primary types of diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs in some pregnant women. It’s triggered by pregnancy, which causes a natural rise in insulin resistance, and is most frequently diagnosed in the second half of pregnancy1.

For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after birth. If you experience gestational diabetes, it’s important to control it to avoid any damage to your baby’s development. Some ways to control gestational diabetes include1:

  • Meal planning for optimal nutritional absorption
  • Daily exercise
  • Controlling weight gain during pregnancy
  • Taking diabetes insulin to control blood sugar if needed

If you experience gestational diabetes, you need to keep an eye on your health as you’re at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.


Prediabetes isn’t exactly a type of diabetes, but it is a precursor. Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are elevated, but not yet high enough to be medically classified as diabetes3.

This is important to recognize because most people that experience prediabetes will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. However, prediabetes is reversible if caught early enough and when this happens, diabetes doesn’t surface. To find out if you have signs of prediabetes, or any other type of diabetes we’ve referenced, scheduled a screening with your primary care physician today.

What are the Treatment Options?

If you’re living with diabetes, treatment is needed to live a full, healthy life. You need to keep your blood glucose levels and blood pressure as close to normal as possible3.

The treatment options are fairly similar for each type of diabetes, but should be discussed specifically with your doctor prior to moving forward. Treatment begins with monitoring your blood glucose levels with an at-home device. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that most people with diabetes aim for the following treatment goals3:

  • The target blood sugar goal before a meal is 80 mg/dl–130 mg/dl3.
  • When using a meter that gives plasma glucose levels, the target goal before a meal is between 90 mg/dl and 130 mg/dl3.

Almost every diabetic will take insulin, but Type 2 diabetes’ severity can be reduced with some major lifestyle changes.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and are looking for a way to safely and affordably purchase your diabetes supplies, learn more about our diabetes solutions today. today. We offer patients the ability to conveniently secure insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, blood glucose test strips, and more. Our one source, total solution for diabetes care also offers a number of resources, educational updates, and great customer service.