There are a number of different types of diabetes, some of which are more prevalent than others. The most common form of diabetes in the general population is type 2 diabetes, which often develops from pre-diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy.
Learn more about the different types of diabetes:
Which type of diabetes do I have?
In some cases, it may not be clear which type of diabetes you have. If your doctor cannot be sure which type of diabetes you have, they may run one or more tests to help determine your diabetes type.
There are a number of different types of diabetes. In this video we look at 5 of the most common types of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes amongst adults - about 85% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the second most common - approximately 15% of people with diabetes in the UK have type 1. There are also other less common types of diabetes including gestational diabetes, LADA and MODY.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, meaning that most people who develop type 2 diabetes are usually middle aged or older. However, type 2 diabetes can develop earlier in adulthood or even childhood. Diabetes UK reports that obesity accounts for over 80% of the overall risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Other risk factors include having a close family member with type 2 diabetes, being of African/Caribbean, South Asian or Middle Eastern descent, or having high blood pressure and/or cholesterol. Type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet and exercise alone, or with tablets, insulin or other injectable medication.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes come on slowly and may take months or years to appear.
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes because it usually develops within childhood but it is quite common for type 1 diabetes to develop in adulthood as well. Type 1 diabetes is an anti-immune disease whereby the body’s immune system kills off its own insulin producing cells.
People with type 1 diabetes treat their diabetes with insulin. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to come on within days or weeks.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes which specifically develops during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes develops in about 1 in 20 pregnancies. Treatment may be with diet and exercise alone or may require tablets or insulin. Blood sugar levels usually return to normal after giving birth.
LADA stands latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood. LADA is often referred to as type 1.5 because it results in a loss of insulin producing cells like type 1 diabetes but occurs in adults and develops more slowly. People with LADA may initially be diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes before tests can confirm LADA.
People with LADA may be treated with either tablets or insulin initially but will ultimately need to be treated with insulin after some time.
MODY stands for maturity onset diabetes of the young. MODY is caused by a genetic change and there are several different types of MODY depending on which gene is affected. This type of diabetes is believed to affect between about 1 and 2% of all people with diabetes
People with MODY may initially be diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and may be put onto insulin. However, in some cases, if the tests determine diabetes MODY, you may not need to take insulin.
Conditions which can lead to diabetes
Some conditions, including genetic syndromes and surgery, can lead to high blood glucose levels and therefore diabetes.
Such types of diabetes account for around 1 to 2% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Examples of such conditions include:
- Glucagonoma - a condition in which the body produces too much of the hormone glucagon
- Chronic pancreatitis - a condition which causes inflammation of the pancreas
- Cystic fibrosis - a genetic condition that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system
- Pancreatectomy - surgical removal of the pancreas
Conditions linked with type 2 diabetes
There are a number of conditions that are not necessarily a direct cause but are closely linked with type 2 diabetes.
Conditions closely linked with type 2 diabetes include:
- Alzheimer’s disease - as noted above, this has been referred to as type 3 diabetes by some researchers
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - a condition which can impact on fertility in women
- Cushing’s Syndrome - a condition characterised by excess production of the hormone cortisol
- Pancreatic cancer - has been linked with type 2 diabetes with some debate as to which condition may influence the other
Conditions linked with type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system mistakes its own cells for invading pathogens that need to be destroyed.
People with type 1 diabetes tend to have a higher risk of having other autoimmune diseases than the rest of the population.
Other autoimmune diseases include:
- Coeliac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Addisons disease
- Autoimmune thyroid disease