There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is another type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Pre-diabetes is the condition that develops prior to full diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes usually first manifests in children or young adults but it can occur at any age.
- The pancreas stops producing insulin and therefore the body’s cells are unable to turn glucose into energy.
- Insulin injections are needed multiple times a day to stay alive.
- Approximately 10-15% of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
- The exact cause is not known, however it is thought to be associated with a viral trigger in people with a genetic predisposition to the disease.
- Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes and insulin dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes occurring in 85-90% of people with diabetes.
- It usually occurs in people aged over 50 years of age although it is now being seen increasingly in younger people and even children.
- The pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin that it does produce is not working properly.
- Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes such as improved diet and increased exercise.
- Other management strategies include oral glucose-lowering drugs and insulin injections.
- Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually disappears once the baby is born.
- It occurs in women who have no history of diabetes and whose blood sugar levels increase during pregnancy for the first time.
- Gestational diabetes can recur in subsequent pregnancies.
- Women who have gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Management includes changes to diet and exercise, and possibly medication including insulin injections.
Pre-diabetes is when a person has higher glucose levels than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.
There are two conditions classified as pre-diabetes:
- Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) – this is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal following an 8 hour fast and a blood test, but are not high enough to be diabetes.
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) – this is when blood glucose levels are detected as higher than normal using an oral glucose tolerance test and a blood test 2 hours later, but are not high enough to be diabetes.
- World Health Organization 1999. Definition, Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus and its Complications: Report of a WHO Consultation. Part 1: Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus. Geneva, World Health Org.
- Rizwana Kousar 2010. What is Diabetes? Community Education Series, Melbourne. © Australian Community Centre for Diabetes (ACCD).
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2008. Diabetes: Australian facts 2008, Diabetes series no. 8. Cat. no. CVD 40. Canberra: AIHW.
- Diabetes Australia, 2010.