Double diabetes is when someone with type 1 diabetes develops insulin resistance, the key feature of type 2 diabetes.
Someone with double diabetes will always have type 1 diabetes present but the effects of insulin resistance can be reduced somewhat.
The most common reason for developing insulin resistance is obesity and whilst type 1 diabetes is not itself brought on by obesity.
People with type 1 diabetes are able to become obese and suffer from insulin resistance as much as anyone else.
What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s immune system attacks and kills off its own insulin producing cells.
The autoimmune effect is not prompted by being overweight. Over a period of time, the vast majority, if not all, of insulin producing cells are destroyed.
Type 2 diabetes is closely related to obesity, 85% of cases of type 2 diabetes occur in people who are obese. Although the process is not yet fully understood, it is largely believed that obesity causes the body’s cells to become resistant to insulin.
As a result, people with either type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes start to produce more insulin than those without the condition and one of the consequences of this is further weight gain which helps to reinforce the condition.
Type 2 diabetes develops gradually, usually over a period of years before symptoms, such as frequent urination, become noticeable.
Progression of double diabetes
Similar to type 2 diabetes, double diabetes, if not treated appropriately can become more severe over time.
If double diabetes is allowed to progress more insulin will need to be injected which promotes further weight gain and increases the body’s resistance to the insulin further requiring even greater insulin.
Treating double diabetes
Someone with double diabetes will need to keep taking their insulin every day as their type 1 diabetes will always be present. In addition, they will need to try to combat the insulin resistance by adapting their lifestyle to help regain their sensitivity to insulin and slowly and safely reducing the amount of insulin they take.
Eating foods with fewer carbohydrates and a higher fibre content can be effective. Including more exercise into one’s daily routine can also help to increase insulin sensitivity.
Medication usually prescribed for type 2 diabetes may also be prescribed to help improve insulin sensitivity as well as to aid weight loss.
Prognosis of double diabetes
Double diabetes can be problematic in that it is taking a condition, type 1 diabetes, with a relatively high risk of complications, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, and then increasing the risks by adding the associated problems of weight gain and obesity. If overall blood glucose control is also not good, the risks are further increased.
If blood sugar levels are well controlled and body weight is reduced, the risks of diabetic complications can be reduced.