Many people know that there is a difference between Type I and Type II diabetes, but they aren’t sure just what those differences are. Others may not know that there are actually several other types of diabetes in addition to Types I and II, and that there are diseases that may mimic diabetes but are not the “real thing.”
Here are some ideas and tips on how to know the difference between the various types of diabetes.
Types of Diabetes – Understanding the Differences
Also called juvenile onset diabetes, Type I usually occurs in people under the age of 25. The pancreas, often due to an autoimmune problem (the body attacks its own pancreatic cells) becomes disabled and can no longer produce insulin.
Type I tends to run in families and will affect the person for the rest of his or her life. Insulin will be required and perhaps other medications throughout the diabetic’s life.
This type of diabetes usually occurs later in life. Its symptoms are similar to Type I – excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, fatigue, tingling in the extremities, etc. – but unlike Type I, Type II can often be managed with diet and exercise, especially if it’s caught early.
Some sources note that it never really “goes away,” but its severity varies.
Type II diabetics usually have a functioning pancreas; it just doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin it does produce is not processed or recognized by the body (insulin resistance).
The above types are both a form of diabetes mellitus. This is the form of the disease most people think of when they hear the term “diabetes.”
This is a disease that many may not have heard of. While it shares the same first name and even some of the symptoms (frequent urination and excessive thirst, for example), diabetes insipidus is actually quite different from diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes insipidus is primarily a kidney disease and is often connected to the pituitary gland. This gland makes two hormones: one that stimulates the kidneys to make more urine (diuretic hormone) and one that “shuts off” the production of urine (anti-diuretic hormone).
In diabetes insipidus, the kidneys either stop responding to this hormone or something goes wrong with the pituitary gland so that the hormones are not secreted properly.
MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young, is often confused with Type I or II diabetes. But it’s neither one – sometimes it’s called “Type 1.5.” MODY is said to be caused by a single mutated gene that can be passed on from parent to child. MODY itself has varying degrees of severity, with MODY 1 and 3 possibly requiring insulin, sometimes in the oral form only, and MODY 2 not requiring any form of insulin.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Infants, Children, and Adults
Diabetes is not as uncommon a disease as some people may think. In fact, according to various sources, there are between 25 and 26 million diabetics living in the United States.
Diabetes is not just a disease that affects older, overweight people; its various types can affect infants and the elderly, and those in between.
To help get a better grasp of the nature of diabetes, it helps to know the signs and symptoms of various age groups. Here are some of them.
Watching for the signs and symptoms of diabetes in infants can be tricky. Watch for symptoms of low blood sugar in addition to high, warn experts. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is usually associated with diabetes, but low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) may also be a symptom.
Babies with low blood sugar may tremble, be cranky, or have pale or blue lips and/or fingers. High blood sugar may present as dehydration, or a baby seeming to need to drink all the time and urinate frequently. Also, a sweetish smell to the urine is indicative of diabetes.
Other symptoms of diabetes in infants include excessive sleepiness, extreme hunger, and sores that are slow to heal. Some sources suggest looking for a dark rash on the back of your baby’s neck – it may feel somewhat velvety.
Like infants, children with diabetes may exhibit extreme thirst and frequent urination. He or she may lose weight despite all the ravenous hunger, and in fact, some sources say that unexplained weight loss is the number one sign of diabetes in children.
Other symptoms include:
- Uncharacteristic behavior (just not acting like him/herself)
- Vision problems, an especially blurred vision that comes and goes
- Chronic yeast infections, especially in girls
- Tingling in hands and feet
Adults can develop Type I or juvenile diabetes, particularly young adults. Type II diabetes occurs later in life and is different than Type I, but the symptoms of both are quite similar.
For adults, the following symptoms may indicate diabetes.
- Unexplained weight loss – Adults in particular need to be cautioned about this symptom, because adults often think any weight loss is good. This is especially true if their doctor told them that being overweight put them at risk for diabetes. But if the weight loss is unexplained and is accompanied by any of the other symptoms, it might be a good idea to see your doctor.
- Thirst and urination – Like infants and children, adults with undiagnosed diabetes are often extremely thirsty. And the more you drink, the more you urinate. If it seems like you do nothing but drink and pee, and never feel satisfied as to your thirst, diabetes might be the culprit.
- Tingling in extremities – As with children, adults may experience tingling hands and feet.
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There are disorders that mimic the symptoms of diabetes. Among these are liver disease, morbid obesity, and the side effects of certain cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering drugs.
You can control and even reduce your diabetes symptoms with the right protocols.