Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes usually appears in children, teenagers or young adults, but it can also be diagnosed later in life. About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

People with type 1 diabetes don't make insulin. Insulin helps convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live. Insulin is usually given by a shot or a small pump that is attached to the body.

There is no known way to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes, but it can be controlled by keeping the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood within a normal range. Keeping blood sugar at an ideal level helps prevent complications and also helps people feel better every day. People with diabetes should talk with their doctor or health care provider to find out what their healthy blood glucose range is. For most people with diabetes, a healthy range is between 90 and 130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 mg/dl at 1 to 2 hours after a meal. (The Importance of Controlling Blood Sugar)

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and it has been described as an epidemic. The number of people with diabetes has nearly tripled since 1980, and most of this increase is in type 2 diabetes. About 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use the insulin it makes as well as it should.

While its cause is unknown, type 2 diabetes has been associated with obesity, genetic risk factors, and inactivity. Some racial and ethnic groups are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These include American Indians, African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Of great concern is the fact that cases of type 2 diabetes, found most often in adults, are now being diagnosed in children and adults, especially in minority populations. Like adults, children have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they are overweight and inactive, and are from one of the racial and ethnic backgrounds mentioned above.

There is no known way to cure type 2 diabetes, but it can be controlled by keeping blood sugar within a normal range. People with diabetes should talk with their doctor or health care provider to find out what their healthy blood glucose range is. For most people with diabetes, a healthy range is between 90 and 130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 mg/dl at 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control the disease by:

  • Losing even small amounts of weight
  • Making healthier food choices
  • Being physically active 30 minutes a day, most days of the week

For more information on weight management, exercise, and choosing healthy foods for diabetes management: www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/managing_diabetes.htm

Other people may need to take one or more oral medications, and/or insulin, in addition to the suggestions listed above.

The good news is that some people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease by making small changes such as:

  • Losing even small amounts of weight
  • Making healthier food choices
  • Being physically active 30 minutes a day, most days of the week

For more information on weight management, exercise, and choosing healthy foods for diabetes management: www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/managing_diabetes.htm

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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational (pronounced jess-tay-shun-ul) diabetes occurs only in pregnant women. Some women may find that because of the changes in their body during pregnancy, insulin does not work as well as it should. If gestational diabetes is not treated, it can cause problems for both the mother and the unborn baby.

Risks for the Baby

For the baby, these problems can include:

  • High birth weight
  • Low blood glucose (sugar) levels right after birth
  • Breathing problems

Risks for the Mother

For the mother, these problems can include:

  • Risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Difficult delivery
  • Risk for cesarean section due to increased size of the baby

While gestational diabetes usually goes away after the pregnancy ends, women who have had it are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life and experience gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Following pregnancy, five to ten percent of women with gestational diabetes are found to have type 2 diabetes.

Women who have had gestational diabetes need to be tested for type 2 diabetes immediately after the baby is born, and then every one to two years. These women can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing even a small amount of weight and becoming more active.

A doctor or health care provider can test for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. It is important that women with gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose (sugar) under control. This can be done by eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and taking insulin if ordered by doctors or health care providers.

Risks for the Child

The child of a mother with gestational diabetes is also at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, especially if he or she becomes overweight. It is important for a woman to tell her child's doctor if she had gestational diabetes. The risk for the child can be reduced if the child is active at least 60 minutes a day and maintains a healthy weight.

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Pre-Diabetes

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes; blood glucose (sugar) levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and for having heart disease and stroke. Many people are unaware that they have pre-diabetes, because it usually has no symptoms.

A doctor or health care provider can test a person for pre-diabetes by using either the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). (How to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes)

The good news is that people can reduce their risk for having type 2 diabetes by making these small changes:

  • Losing even small amounts of weight
  • Making healthy food choices
  • Being physically active 30 minutes a day, most days of the week

Further information on weight management, exercise and choosing healthy foods for diabetes prevention: Weight-control Information Network (WIN)

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