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Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that impacts the way your pancreas produces insulin or how your body responds to insulin.

There are 5 main types of diabetes.

  1. Type 1 diabetes
  2. Type 2 diabetes
  3. Prediabetes
  4. Gestational (pregnancy) diabetes
  5. Medicine-induced diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that impacts the way your pancreas produces insulin or how your body responds to insulin.

There are 5 main types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes
  2. Type 2 diabetes
  3. Prediabetes
  4. Gestational (pregnancy) diabetes
  5. Medicine-induced diabetes

No matter what type of diabetes you have, you have too much sugar in your blood.

Type 1 Diabetes

What is type 1 diabetes and what happens to my body?

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that happens when your pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the sugar in your blood cannot be stored. This causes sugar to collect in your blood.

There are many signs when sugar collects in your blood. Signs include:

  • being thirsty
  • being tired
  • needing to pee often
  • losing weight

Find a more complete list of the signs of diabetes »

Type 1 diabetes is most common in children and teenagers. Although more common in younger people, type 1 diabetes can occur at any age.

What causes type 1 diabetes?

No one knows the main cause of type 1 diabetes. Damage to the pancreas could be from a virus or maybe from your body's own defense system (called your immune system).

What do I need to do?

You will have to take insulin prescribed by your doctor if you have type 1 diabetes.

Since your body cannot produce insulin, sugar will collect in your blood. Large amounts of sugar in your blood (called 'high blood sugar') causes many health problems. Find out more about how high blood sugar causes health problems »

You will have to take insulin to process sugar since your body cannot produce it. You give yourself insulin through a needle. This is called an insulin injection. This insulin will help take sugar from your blood to store it.

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Type 2 Diabetes

What is type 2 diabetes and what happens to my body?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that happens when your pancreas makes insulin but your body does not process sugar as it should. As time passes, your pancreas will stop making enough insulin.

Type 2 diabetes develops slowly over many years. Type 2 diabetes usually happens in people over the age of 40. Although more common in older people, type 2 diabetes can occur at any age.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not known, however, there are risk factors for type 2 diabetes. If you have these risk factors, it means you are more likely to get this disease.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:

  • inactive lifestyle (no regular exercise, sitting too long each day)
  • poor eating habits
  • family history of diabetes
  • being overweight (extra body fat around your stomach and organs)

It is important to tell your family members (such as, your parents, siblings, children) about your diabetes. Your family members can get checked for diabetes by their doctor. Finding out you have diabetes means you can take action and prevent the health problems from high blood sugar. 

What do I need to do?

In the early stages of diabetes when your pancreas is working (making insulin), you take medicine. The medicine comes in pill form and you take it by mouth with water or some other liquid to help swallow it. This medicine helps your body produce more insulin or react better to the insulin your pancreas makes. Find out more about diabetes medicines »

Over time, your pancreas may stop making enough insulin. When your pancreas stops making enough insulin you will start taking insulin. Insulin is given by needle and is called an insulin injection. This insulin helps you manage your blood sugar. 

Exercise can also help your body respond to insulin. Exercise makes your muscles use more sugar from your blood. Since your muscles use more sugar, your body reacts to insulin better. Find out more about exercise »

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Prediabetes

What is prediabetes and what happens to my body?

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is a little higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

What causes prediabetes?

The cause for prediabetes is not known, however, there are risk factors for prediabetes. Risk factors mean you are more likely to get prediabetes.

The risk factors for prediabetes are the same as type 2 diabetes and include:

  • inactive lifestyle (no regular exercise, sitting too long each day)
  • poor eating habits
  • family history of diabetes
  • being overweight (extra body fat around your stomach and organs)

What do I need to do?

Having prediabetes puts you at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To lower your blood sugar, eat healthy, exercise and manage your stress. Find out how to eat healthy, exercise and manage stress »

Your doctor can prescribe a medicine to control your blood sugar. The medicine is only given if you cannot control your blood sugar with regular exercise and eating healthy. This medicine is taken by mouth and helps your body respond to the insulin made by your pancreas. Find out more about diabetes medicines »

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Gestational (Pregnancy) Diabetes

What is gestational (pregnancy) diabetes and what happens to my body?

Gestational (pregnancy) diabetes means you have high blood sugar when you are pregnant. This type of diabetes lasts your pregnancy and normally goes away. Your blood sugar should return to normal after you deliver. Sometimes, gestational (pregnancy) diabetes can last a long time. This is when your blood sugar does not return to normal after you deliver. 

What causes gestational diabetes?

There are a few factors that increase your risk for gestational diabetes. Your risk is higher if:

  • you are 35 years of age or older when pregnant
  • you have a family history of gestational diabetes
  • you are overweight (extra body fat around your stomach and organs)

What do I need to do?

Gestational diabetes can affect your baby. When you have gestational diabetes, your baby can have higher than normal birth weight and higher risk of developing diabetes. Both birth weight and diabetes have known health problems. It is important to control your blood sugar to avoid high birth weight and diabetes.

If you have diabetes (any type) take action to manage your blood sugar.

After you deliver:

  • get your blood sugar checked 6 to 12 weeks after you deliver. Get checked to know if your blood sugar is back to normal.
  • gestational diabetes puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes. See your doctor every 1 to 3 years after delivery to monitor your health. Eat healthy and exercise to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes in the future.
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Medicine-Induced Diabetes

What is medicine-induced diabetes and what happens to my body?

Medicine-induced diabetes means your medicine has given you diabetes. Your medicine has raised your blood sugar. Your medicine either caused your body to make more sugar or stopped your insulin from working in the right way.

Medicines that can raise your blood sugar are:

  • steroids
  • some antipsychotic medicines (treatment for schizophrenia)

What causes Medicine-Induced Diabetes?

Taking medicines that raise your blood sugar causes medicine-induced diabetes. Medicines that cause medicine-induced diabetes work differently in your body. Talk to your doctor about what is happening to you.

What do I need to do?

Speak with your doctor about other medicine options for you.

If you have diabetes (any type) take action to manage your blood sugar.

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Last Reviewed: 10/16/2016