What are the different types of diabetes? One of the questions we get asked a lot on Diabetic South Africans is about the different types of diabetes. There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Here’s some basic information about the differences between the different types. Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below!
Type 1 diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas stops producing insulin.
- The diabetes diagnosis is often very sudden and dramatic, usually in hospital.
- If you look after yourself, though, it is possible to thrive after a Type 1 diagnosis.
- All Type 1 diabetics have to take insulin injections with every meal (and before going to bed). Some Type 1 diabetics use a pump instead of injections.
Type 1 diabetes is most common in children or youth under 30, but more and more older people are being diagnosed as Type 1s.
Type 1 diabetes is not hereditary (it doesn’t run in the family), but it is genetic (it lives in your genes). Remember that diabetes is a self-managed condition. Good diabetes management often comes down to the right attitude and approach to living with a chronic condition – here’s some advice from a few decades of living with Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes is the more common type of diabetes: 90% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes.
- It is hereditary (it runs in families).
- Type 2 diabetes is often called a lifestyle disease, because it can be caused by being overweight or obese, eating the wrong kind of food and not exercising.
- It can be reversed by losing weight if necessary, eating healthy food and exercising. Here’s how to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes 2 or sugar diabetes (in South Africa) is most common in adults. That said, large numbers of children are being diagnosed (usually if they are overweight and not active). People who are overweight or who have diabetes in their family are more at risk and may need to lose weight. Here are some helpful tips on how to manage Type 2 diabetes, including weight loss tips, portion control and how to choose the right kinds of food.
The medication for Type 2 diabetes is usually tablets followed by insulin injections at a later date if necessary. Sometimes, Type 2 diabetes medication can cause diarrhea (upset stomach), but if you take it at night this is less of a problem.
- Gestational diabetes is a condition of high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
- Women with gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Like Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes can often be controlled with diet and exercise, although it will sometimes need medication.
- If gestational diabetes is undiagnosed, it can harm the baby – it’s important to get checked for gestational diabetes during pregnancy (usually at the beginning of the third trimester).
Other types of diabetes
There is also a fourth type of diabetes, known as LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes) or Type 1.5 diabetes. This is a condition where Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in adults, who would more often be candidates for Type 2. It has all the same characteristics as Type 1 diabetes, except that it is diagnosed much later.
What type of diabetes do you have? Were you told clearly when you were diagnosed?
What to read next?
Type 2 diabetes risk factors: Spend 1 minute watching this video and you’ll know if you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Eat healthy for diabetes: The one diabetes and diet article you need to read.
How to reverse Type 2 diabetes: A step-by-step guide to how to reverse Type 2.