Monday, March 1, 2010

What Type Are You?

Ever since the Oprah/Oz fiasco, I’ve been planning a blog describing the different types of Diabetes. I wanted it to be a post that was short, simple, easy to understand, informative and without opinion. All who know me know the last one was very hard to do. Haha!

So, for all of those that emailed me asking the difference and stating that you are ‘Diabetes stupid’, this blog is for you. At the very least, I hope it sheds some light on the fact that while Diabetes is the general name, it’s a chronic illness that has many facets.

Type 1 – The insulin dependent Diabetes. Type 1 is when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. This means Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease. The body doesn’t recognize its own parts and attacks itself. Type 1 is the rarest & most severe form of Diabetes. Without insulin, the patient will die. It's that simple. This Type usually occurs in children & young adults.

Type 1.5 – The late onset Diabetes. Type 1.5 is a slow moving Diabetes and is usually misdiagnosed as Type 2. This Type is considered slow onset because the pancreas still produces some insulin and has not yet reached the Type 1 stage. Typically, at the time of diagnosis, insulin therapy is not yet required. This type usually occurs in adults past the age of 30.

Type 2 – The insulin resistant Diabetes. Type 2 is adult onset where the body is insulin resistant or the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to maintain proper blood sugar range. This is the most common form of Diabetes. Usually this Type can be treated by a healthy diet & regular exercise. However, some may take oral medication and some may take insulin. This type occurs in adults who are overweight or elderly.

Type 3 – The Diabetes baby. Type 3 was discovered in 2005. Scientists are still struggling to figure this numerical gem out. What they do know is that Type 3 acts very similar to Alzheimer’s and there are theories that link the two. Type 3 doesn’t affect your blood sugar; it affects your brain sugar. The brain needs insulin to continue making brain cells. Without insulin, the brain basically dies. This type strikes at any age.

Gestational Diabetes – The pregnancy Diabetes. Gestational Diabetes is when the hormones from the placenta block the mother’s insulin from doing its job. Treatment usually consists of diet & exercise in order to keep the blood sugar in the normal range. Sometimes insulin is used to achieve the proper blood sugar levels. Gestational Diabetes usually subsides after the baby is born. This type occurs in pregnant women.

One of the misconceptions is that any Type of Diabetes is reversible. I’m sorry to say that it is not. Type 2’s, who lose weight, eat properly & exercise, may be able to stop taking oral medication or insulin. But, the disease never goes away. It just lies dormant.

As with Gestational, the disease may go away after birth, but you are more likely to see it return if you get pregnant again. It also, in some cases, leads to the discovery of Type 1 or Type 2.

Diabetes has been around for a very long time. Some say the symptom of frequent urination was found written on Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 B.C. A Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia, was the first to give Diabetes its name in 100 A.D. stating that it was ‘the greatest of all sufferings’. So, Diabetes is not the new kid on the block. It has taken over 2000 years to get to where we are today in regards to research, awareness & therapy.

I am certainly not the first, the only, nor will I be the last that has to live every single day with this devastating disease. More’s the pity.

One thing has remained the same, there is not cure for Diabetes. Period. The end.

For more information on Diabetes and to help our fight for a cure, please visit JDRF or ADA.



  1. Thank you for this post. One point, though, I think needs a bit of clarification. 'This type (Type 2)occurs in adults who are overweight or elderly." There's truth here, but it's more complicated. Most newly diagnosed T2s are obese (I am), but a substantial portion are not. Just this morning, I heard about an insulin-dependent T2 whose normal weight is 95 lbs and who has never been overweight. Similarly, while probably most new T2s are middle-aged or beyond, increasing numbers of young people are being diagnosed with T2: there was recently a PBS series aimed at T2 teens.

  2. Hello Kelly, nicely done. I am Type 1 and have been for 27 years. I find myself silently angry when a Type 2 compares my life to if. I have been diligently battling every day since my diagnosis to be as healthy as I can possibly can; I think there is no room for comparison between Type 1 and Type 2. I especially find it difficult to contain my words when a Type 2 Diabetic can turn their health around if they so choose with diet and exercise, but chooses not to and then makes a comparison. Good diet and plenty of exercise is not a choice for me and never has been, neither are the insulin injections.