Types of Diabetes

There are 3 main types of diabetes mellitus; Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational.

The type of diabetes you have can affect your body in different ways. It’s important to know which type you have, so you and your healthcare team can choose the best treatment plan for you.

Type 1 Diabetes

With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas isn’t able to make insulin or can only make very little insulin. Because your body needs insulin to live, you need to get this hormone from other sources—shots or insulin pump—outside your body. Type 1 is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence, but can develop at later stages in life.

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Lack of insulin due to the destruction of beta cells (where the insulin is produced) in the pancreas

  • Autoimmune disease - Your immune system attacks your own body’s insulin producing cells within the pancreas

  • Inherited or genetic disposition

  • Environmental contributions

  • Viruses & infections (T1D is often diagnosed after a viral infection)

  • Infant feeding practices –Early introduction to cow’s milk and cereal proteins. Vitamin D fed babies (breast or formula fed) lead to a reduced risk of getting T1D.

Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body isn’t able to use the insulin effectively. Often, you can control type 2 diabetes with a healthy diet and exercise, but many times oral medications and insulin are necessary. Type 2 is the more common form of diabetes mellitus. It normally occurs in people over 40, but can develop at any age, and in people who are overweight. Type 2 is often caused by a combination of factors, including insulin resistance (body does not effectively utilize insulin).

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Genetic disposition (increased rate in family members & identical twins)

  • Obesity and physical inactivity (strong correlation)

  • Insulin resistance – common in overweight & obese (body stops responding to insulin and causes pancreas to produce additional insulin)

  • Abnormal glucose production in the liver

  • Beta cell dysfunction – Beta cells produce inadequate patterns insulin or destroyed from high glucose levels causing blood glucose toxicity

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a degree of glucose intolerance at onset or at first recognition of pregnancy. In general, your blood glucose levels generally return to normal after delivery. A person with gestational diabetes can be at risk with future pregnancies and later development of Type 2 Diabetes.

Causes and Risk Factors:

  • Age

  • Family history

  • Weight

  • Hormonal fluctuations

  • Metabolic demands

  • Endocrine diseases

  • Genetic mutations

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Damage to or removal of the pancreas

  • Medications – especially steroid hormones, such as glucocorticoids used to treat inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and asthma