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Types of diabetes: risks, characteristics and treatment

Types of diabetes: risks, characteristics and treatment

May 28, 2024

There are disorders that generate great concern because of their great impact on the population. A clear example is diabetes mellitus . This set of metabolic disorders have in common that cause an increase in blood glucose (hyperglycemia).

Diabetes has a high global prevalence. In 2015, approximately 400 million cases worldwide . Alarming data, and even more if the predictions indicate that this value will go up, especially one of the types of diabetes: the type II.

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Diabetes through history

Humanity has suffered from this chronic disease since ancient times. There is data that cases were already recognized by the year 1500 BC. in Ancient Egypt.


It was not until a few years later that the doctor from Ancient Greece, Areteo of Cappadocia, named this disorder, which has remained until today.

"Diabetes" means in Greek "runs through" , since it refers to one of the most striking symptoms of the condition, low fluid retention.

Types of diabetes

There are different types of diabetes, many of them minor cases, but all have in common that cause hyperglycemia and the problems that arise of it: nervous, cardiovascular and renal complications.

We can mainly divide it into four groups: type I diabetes, type II diabetes, gestational diabetes and other types. In the latter group, the MODY syndrome stands out, although diabetes is also indirectly caused, for example, by an infection in the pancreas or induced by drug treatment.


1. Diabetes mellitus type 1 (DM1)

Formerly also called "insulin-dependent diabetes" or "childhood diabetes", it represents about 5% of diagnosed cases.

Type I diabetes is characterized by the absence of the hormone insulin , which stimulates the uptake of blood glucose by the cells. This disappearance is due to the destruction of the β cells of the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas, place of production of the hormone, due to the immune system.

This disorder It usually develops in children or adolescents , although there are cases of the appearance of the disease in adult stages, which are known under the name of LADA ("Latent Autoimmune Disease in the Adult", that is, "latent autoimmune disease in adults").

The risk of suffering DM1 is somewhat complex, since it is a combination of a genetic predisposition along with the interaction of certain environmental factors that trigger the problem (infection or diet). This makes it difficult to prevent the disease.


The symptoms that indicate this alteration of metabolism are frequent urination, unusual thirst, continuous hunger, weight loss, irritability and fatigue. They appear suddenly and their only treatment is the lifelong supply of insulin in the patient, in addition to a rigorous control of the glycemic level, since it easily tends to ketone coma.

2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2)

Formerly known as "non-insulin-dependent diabetes", it is the most widespread type of diabetes, being between 85% and 90% of cases that are diagnosed. Hyperglycemia is caused by a body's resistance to insulin or a deficiency in insulin secretion, but never by an autoimmune attack.

Main Risk factors are related to lifestyle , such as lack of exercise, overweight, obesity or stress. As it is a complex disease, there are other relevant factors such as genetics or alterations of the intestinal flora itself. It is a chronic disease that usually appears in adult stage (more than 40 years), although they begin to see cases in young people.

The symptoms are very similar to type I diabetes but to a lesser extent, since it is a sequential process and not sudden. The biggest problem is that it is diagnosed once it takes a while to develop the condition.

The initial treatments usually consist of exercise plans and diets, because if it is not well developed it is possible to reverse the effects. In more severe cases, a therapy with antidiabetic drugs is necessary, which reduces blood glucose, although in the long run insulin injections are needed.

3. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)

It is a form of prediabetes that can appear during the second or third trimester of pregnancy . It is detected as hyperglycemia in mothers who, before pregnancy, were not diagnosed with any other type of diabetes.

One of the possible causes of this disorder is that the hormones that are produced during pregnancy interfere with the functionality of insulin. During the first trimester of pregnancy, blood glucose levels can be controlled to rule out GDM.

Some risk factors are having previously suffered GDM in another pregnancy, having suffered several miscarriages or having a family history with diabetes.

More than the symptoms, the biggest problem is the consequences of this increase in glucose, which, although they do not reach the established values ​​to diagnose diabetes, are higher than normal.

Gestational diabetes can trigger problems in childbirth by macrosomia (excessive growth of the baby) as well as increasing the predisposition of both the child and the mother to suffer the disease. The usual treatment is a control of the lifestyle, that is, exercise and diet.

4. The MODY syndrome and other types

The last group is a box where all kinds of diabetes are grouped together, whose incidence is much lower, such as type 3.

Despite this, one can be highlighted for its incidence, between 2% and 5% of diagnoses: it is MODY syndrome.

Also called monogenic diabetes, acronyms mean in English "Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young" ("Mature age diabetes that occurs in young people"), because it resembles DM2 but develops in non-obese adolescents. Unlike the rest, this disorder is monogenic (caused by a single gene) and is not a complex disease. The biggest risk is having a family history with this type of disorder.

So far, up to 6 different genes have been found that can develop the syndrome. All of them have in common that, when they are mutated, the β cells do not synthesize or release insulin correctly, generating diabetes. It is treated first with antidiabetic drugs oral, in spite of the fact that insulin is eventually injected as in DM2.

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Diabetes Signs and Symptoms (2018) (May 2024).


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