Types of Diabetes – Know the Difference
Many people know that there is a difference between Type I and Type II diabetes, but they aren’t sure just what those differences are. Others may not know that there are actually several other types of diabetes in addition to Types I and II, and that there are diseases that may mimic diabetes but are not the “real thing.” Here are some ideas and tips on how to know the difference between the various types of diabetes.
Also called juvenile onset diabetes, Type I usually occurs in people under the age of 25. The pancreas, often due to an autoimmune problem (the body attacks its own pancreatic cells) becomes disabled and can no longer produce insulin. Type I tends to run in families and will affect the person for the rest of his or her life. Insulin will be required and perhaps other medications throughout the diabetic’s life.
This type of diabetes usually occurs later in life. Its symptoms are similar to Type I – excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, fatigue, tingling in the extremities, etc. – but unlike Type I, Type II can often be managed with diet and exercise, especially if it’s caught early. Some sources note that it never really “goes away,” but its severity varies. Type II diabetics usually have a functioning pancreas; it just doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin it does produce is not processed or recognized by the body (insulin resistance).
The above types are both a form of diabetes mellitus. This is the form of the disease most people think of when they hear the term “diabetes.”
This is a disease that many may not have heard of. While it shares the same first name and even some of the symptoms (frequent urination and excessive thirst, for example), diabetes insipidus is actually quite different from diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes insipidus is primarily a kidney disease, and is often connected to the pituitary gland. This gland makes two hormones: one that stimulates the kidneys to make more urine (diuretic hormone) and one that “shuts off” the production of urine (anti-diuretic hormone). In diabetes insipidus, the kidneys either stop responding to this hormone or something goes wrong with the pituitary gland so that the hormones are not secreted properly.
MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young, is often confused with Type I or II diabetes. But it’s neither one – sometimes it’s called “Type 1.5.” MODY is said to be caused by a single mutated gene that can be passed on from parent to child.
MODY itself has varying degrees of severity, with MODY 1 and 3 possibly requiring insulin, sometimes in the oral form only, and MODY 2 not requiring any form of insulin.
What Causes Diabetes?
Chances are, you know someone with diabetes, or someone in your family has it. But what causes it? How does a person develop the symptoms of diabetes?
There are basically two types of diabetes, Type I and Type II. These differ as to their cause and treatment. Here are some ideas about what causes diabetes.
Causes of Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes is caused by a malfunctioning pancreas. What causes the pancreas to malfunction differs from case to case. It tends to run in families, but some individuals have developed diabetes in childhood when no one in their family has any history of the disease.
In some individuals, their own immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys its cells, thereby rendering it useless. In others with Type I diabetes, an injury or pancreatic surgery destroys the pancreas to the point that it can no longer produce insulin.
Type I diabetes has a different demographic than Type II. Children as young as 2 or as old as 22 can be diagnosed with Type I diabetes – hence the alternate name for Type I diabetes: juvenile diabetes. However, older people can certainly develop Type I diabetes, especially if there is injury to the pancreas.
Causes of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes may have some hereditary factors, too, but not to the clear-cut degree that Type I does. In Type II, the body becomes resistant to the insulin that the pancreas is still producing. Or, Type II diabetics have a functioning pancreas but the organ does not produce enough insulin.
Older individuals and those who are overweight are considered more at risk for developing Type II diabetes than those with a healthy body weight and lifestyle.
What Triggers It?
An auto-immune disorder might trigger Type I diabetes, as the body’s immune system can inexplicably attack the pancreas and destroy its cells. There might also be some other way that the pancreas gets damaged, which is not age specific.
Type II diabetes may be triggered by unhealthy, sugar-rich diets and a sedentary lifestyle. The pancreas may simply become exhausted trying to keep the blood sugar down in response to the constant influx of sugar from the diet.
Other possibilities for triggers include high blood pressure and stress. While it’s not directly proven as a causal factor, individuals with high blood pressure are statistically more likely to develop diabetes than those with normal blood pressure.
Stress as a causal factor has a similarly unproven status, but it is often thought by medical professionals that prolonged, unrelieved stress increases the risk of diabetes. Sometimes the stress is caused by trauma or emotional disturbance, somehow making the individual susceptible to developing diabetes.