Diabetes is a complex condition that manifests in various forms. Alongside the more prevalent diabetes types – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes – there exist a variety of other equally significant diabetes subtypes.
Approximately 2% of individuals are affected by these distinct diabetes variations, which encompass various forms of monogenic diabetes, diabetes linked to cystic fibrosis, and diabetes stemming from rare syndromes. Additionally, certain medications like steroids and antipsychotics, as well as surgical procedures and hormonal imbalances, can precipitate other diabetes types. Regrettably, many individuals with these conditions experience misdiagnosis, resulting in delays in receiving appropriate treatment.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes encompasses a range of conditions in which the body either fails to produce sufficient insulin, struggles to effectively utilize the insulin it produces, or experiences a combination of both scenarios.
When any of these occurrences take place, the body becomes incapable of transporting sugar from the bloodstream into its cells. Consequently, this can result in elevated blood sugar levels.
Glucose, the type of sugar present in your blood, serves as a primary energy source. An insufficient supply of insulin or resistance to insulin results in the accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream, potentially giving rise to health complications.
We take pride in our commitment to research, which has contributed to enhancing the diagnosis and treatment of all diabetes types. Below, you can find more information about the diverse categories of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
- Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY)
- Neonatal diabetes
- Wolfram Syndrome
- Alström Syndrome
- Latent Autoimmune diabetes in Adults (LADA)
- Type 3c diabetes
- Steroid-induced diabetes
- Cystic fibrosis diabetes
- Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels due to the inability of your body to produce a vital hormone called insulin.
This condition arises from an autoimmune response where your body attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas, resulting in the complete absence of insulin production.
Insulin plays a crucial role in our survival by facilitating the entry of glucose from our bloodstream into our cells, providing energy for our bodies.
In the case of type 1 diabetes, your body continues to break down carbohydrates from food and beverages into glucose. However, without insulin to facilitate its entry into your cells, glucose accumulates in your bloodstream, ultimately causing elevated blood sugar levels.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the insulin produced by your pancreas cannot function effectively or when your pancreas doesn’t produce sufficient insulin. As a result, your blood glucose (sugar) levels continue to rise.
In the UK, approximately 90% of individuals with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is a significant and potentially lifelong condition.
If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious damage to various parts of your body, such as your eyes, heart, and feet, which are known as diabetes complications. However, by receiving the appropriate treatment and care, you can effectively manage type 2 diabetes and reduce the likelihood of developing these complications.
3. Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can manifest during pregnancy, primarily impacting women who have not previously experienced diabetes. It entails elevated blood sugar levels, necessitating heightened self-care and attention, both for the mother and her developing baby. This entails maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity.
Typically, gestational diabetes resolves postpartum, and its diagnosis typically occurs through a blood test conducted between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.
4. Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY)
MODY is a rare form of diabetes that varies from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and has a strong family history. It is caused by a mutation (or change) in a single gene. If this mutation is present in any of the parents, their children, have a 50% chance of inheriting it from them. If a child inherits it, they will generally develop MODY before the age of 25, irrespective of their weight, lifestyle, ethnic group, etc.
5. Neonatal diabetes
Neonatal diabetes is a variety of diabetes that is typically identified within the first six months of life. It distinguishes itself from the more prevalent type 1 diabetes in that it does not result from an autoimmune condition where the body has attacked its insulin-producing cells.
6. Wolfram Syndrome
Wolfram Syndrome which is also called the DIDMOAD syndrome after its four most common features (Diabetes Insipidus, Diabetes Mellitus, Optic Atrophy, and Deafness) is a rare genetic disorder. It occurs commonly in young children and becomes fatal in individuals by the onset of their adult life.
7. Alstrom Syndrome
Alström Syndrome is an infrequently inherited genetic syndrome characterized by several shared features.
8. Latent Autoimmune diabetes in Adults (LADA)
LADA, also known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, falls within a diabetes category that appears to share characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Some aspects of LADA resemble type 1 diabetes, while others resemble type 2. This is why it is often colloquially referred to as type 1.5 diabetes or type 1 ½ diabetes.
Currently, LADA is not officially recognized as an independent diabetes type, but ongoing medical research aims to precisely identify its distinctions from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
9. Type 3c diabetes
Type 3c diabetes arises as a consequence of damage to the pancreas induced by various underlying medical conditions. Some of the conditions associated with type 3c diabetes encompass pancreatic cancer, pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or hemochromatosis. Additionally, the removal of part or all of the pancreas due to other sources of damage can also lead to the development of type 3c diabetes.
10. Steroid-induced diabetes
Steroid-induced diabetes can develop in individuals who use steroids, particularly those with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
11. Cystic fibrosis diabetes
Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes is the prevailing form of diabetes found in individuals with cystic fibrosis. Despite exhibiting characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it represents a distinct medical condition.
Monogenic diabetes, distinct from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, results from a mutation in a single gene. When a parent carries this mutation, there is a 50 percent likelihood of passing it on to their offspring. Due to its rarity, monogenic diabetes is frequently subject to misdiagnosis.
Furthermore, in certain instances of monogenic diabetes, the disorder can be effectively controlled using specialized medications, obviating the need for insulin therapy. This underscores the significance of accurately recognizing and diagnosing these uncommon diabetes variants.
(There are two subtypes of monogenic diabetes – Neonatal and MODY).
What are the signs and symptoms?
Unmanaged diabetes commonly presents with the following symptoms:
- Experiencing excessive thirst and hunger.
- Frequent urination.
- Feelings of drowsiness or fatigue.
- Dry, itchy skin.
- Blurry vision.
- Slow-healing wounds.
There is currently no established means of preventing type 1 diabetes. However, you can reduce your susceptibility to type 2 diabetes by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and emphasizing a diet rich in nutrients.
- Engaging in regular physical activity.
- Refraining from smoking and keeping triglycerides and HDL cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
If you are dealing with gestational diabetes or prediabetes, adopting these practices can postpone or mitigate the development of type 2 diabetes.