What are the different types of diabetes?

What are the different types of diabetes?

Last Reviewed : 12/24/2020
What are the different types of diabetes?


  • Type I diabetes is a type of diabetes that usually starts in childhood and is an autoimmune disorder.
  • Type II diabetes is an adult-onset diabetes and is non-insulin-dependent.
  • Type III diabetes occurs in Alzheimer's disease (AD) where neurons in the brain are unable to respond to insulin.


Diabetes can be termed as a condition, which impairs the ability of the body to process blood glucose that is referred to as blood sugar. Commonly known as diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disease that results in high blood sugar. There is a hormone known as insulin. It helps to move sugar from the blood into the cells, which can then be stored or converted to energy. When someone is affected by diabetes, the body is either unable to make enough insulin or it cannot effectively make use of the insulin that it normally has to. One needs to understand that glucose is vital to one's health as it becomes an important source of energy for the cells, and the cells in turn make up the muscles and tissues. Further, glucose is the brain's main source of fuel. When high blood sugar from diabetes is untreated, it can result in damage to the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.


When do you suspect diabetes?

Any form of diabetes has a common element, which involves the production or utilization of insulin. Most of the time the body breaks down the carbohydrates and sugars that are consumed and then converts these into glucose. The body requires a hormone called insulin to convert glucose to energy. Thus, for any type of diabetes, the body either is unable to make enough insulin, or it is unable to utilize the insulin, which it produces or it could even be a combination of both of these symptoms. So, if glucose is not utilized, it builds up in the blood. This increases the levels of blood glucose. Due to this, it can damage the smaller blood vessels that circulate blood to the eyes, heart, kidneys, and nervous system. In cases where diabetes is left untreated, it eventually leads to blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and nerve damage.


What are the types of diabetes?

  1. Type I diabetes (T1DM):

Type I diabetes is defined as an autoimmune disease; it is also referred to as juvenile diabetes and sometimes diabetes with a childhood-onset. In the pancreas, where insulin is made, the immune system attacks and destroys such cells. These people have specific cells known as autoantibodies, which specifically target the pancreatic cells. The body also fails to produce the required quantities of insulin. People with this disorder need to take artificial insulin daily and are thus insulin-dependent. It can occur at any age. The cause and the means to prevent it both remain unknown (one needs to note that there can be both environmental as well as genetic reasons for Type I diabetes).

In Type I diabetes, the patient usually has unintentional weight loss and tiredness. Insulin is the mainstay of treatment.



  1. Type II diabetes (T2DM):

Type II diabetes (also referred to as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) manifests in one's body when it becomes resistant to insulin. There is an ineffective use of insulin here. Thus it affects the way one's body uses insulin. Due to this reason, there is a buildup of sugar in one's blood. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has stated that this is the most common type of diabetes, which has strong links to obesity. It is a result of physical inactivity as well as excess body weight. This disease might be diagnosed after many years of onset or after many complications have arisen. A decrease in insulin production is proportional to higher blood sugar levels. Over a while, patients will require insulin and/or oral drugs to keep blood glucose levels under control. It is prone to occur in both adults as well as children but has been reported mostly in middle-aged or older people. An estimate states that around 90% of people are affected by Diabetes Type II. This disorder can cause major health complications that are more related to the smallest blood vessels in the body, which nourish the eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

In Type II diabetes, symptoms include irritability and dark patches in the folds of the skin. The treatments include mainly diet, exercise, eating healthy foods, and medications, if necessary.



  1. Type III diabetes:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is triggered by insulin resistance in the brain and this is termed type III diabetes. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a major cause of dementia that is triggered by insulin resistance or insulin-like growth factor dysfunction that specifically occurs in the brain. Type III diabetes is used to describe people, who have type II diabetes as well as Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia. The brain cells i.e. neurons, become starved of glucose in type III diabetes, and this, in turn, can lead to a progressive reduction in judgment, insight, memory, and reasoning, and these factors characterize Alzheimer’s disease. It is to be noted that the neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin, which is essential for basic tasks, including learning and memory. Due to high levels of insulin, the brain has different chemicals, which may be unbalanced. Some of these changes help trigger Alzheimer’s disease. It is known that high blood sugar causes inflammation, which may damage brain cells and help Alzheimer’s to develop.

In Type III diabetes, the patient has decreased ability to make judgments, difficulty in completing familiar tasks, and memory loss. The line of treatment is exercise, carefully monitor the blood sugar, and medications, whenever necessary.


A chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce necessary quantities of insulin or when the body is unable to effectively make use of the insulin that it produces is termed diabetes. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that is necessary to regulate blood sugar. One needs to remember in the blood all carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose. Insulin helps in putting this glucose into the cells. A common effect of uncontrolled diabetes is hyperglycemia and this over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the blood vessels and nerves. Thus, the body is unable to get sugar from the blood into the cells, which leads to high blood sugar levels. The lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin most of the times results in sugar to build up in the blood.




  1. Marina Basina, M.D., Stephanie Watson Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes [Online] Healthline Media A Red Ventures Company https://www.healthline.com/health/difference-between-type-1-and-type-2-diabetes [Updated on February 26, 2020]
  2. Suzanne Falck, M.D., FACP, Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA An overview of diabetes types and treatments [Online] Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, A Red Ventures Company  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323627  [Updated on June 17, 2020]
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