Home Disorders Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders The Sweet Killer: Diabetes Mellitus and its Different Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

The Sweet Killer: Diabetes Mellitus and its Different Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Worldwide, close to 380 million people have to live with diabetes mellitus each year. In 2013 it was estimated that the disease resulted in almost 5.1 million fatalities, making it one of the top causes of death. Diabetes Mellitus (DM), known more simply as diabetes, is a disease of the pancreas wherein an insulin deficiency leads to increased levels of sugar in the bloodstream. As of now, there is no definitive cure for diabetes. However, research has unearthed a lot of information about the disease. There are many different kinds of diabetes, each with its own respective causes, symptoms, and forms of treatment.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile diabetes, results from an autoimmune response that leads to the destruction of insulin-producing cells. The symptoms of this type of diabetes include fatigue, impaired vision, drastic weight loss, incessant urination, and a largely increased appetite. Other symptoms include severe depression and a risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which may lead to dehydration, vomiting, breathing problems, and even becoming comatose. Genetics plays a role in this disease, and research also suggests that viruses may be responsible for the autoimmune attack.  Type 1 DM is very prominent among children. Treatments for this disease include insulin therapy and monitoring of blood sugar. It is also recommended that the patient maintains a healthy diet and have regular physical exercise.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is most common in adults and accounts for around 90% of all the diabetes cases around the world. This type of diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, wherein the body is no longer able to effectively use the hormone. This eventually leads to high blood sugar levels. Its symptoms are similar to those of type 1 DM, including excessive thirst and urination. Serious complications of the disease may lead to cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. People with unhealthy lifestyles are at a higher risk of getting type 2 DM, especially those who are obese or prone to high blood pressure. Eating healthily and proper exercise are important for treating type 2 DM. Certain kinds of drugs – such as Byetta, Victoza, and Bydureon – have also been proven effective in controlling type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs among pregnant women as a result of the hormonal imbalance typical of pregnancy. Hormones in the placenta inhibit insulin receptors, leading to a need for more insulin and the subsequent rise in blood glucose levels. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy screening tests that discover high glucose levels in the bloodstream. It is commonly found among women with a family history of diabetes, as well as those who are overweight and have polycystic ovary syndrome. The possible complications that may be passed on to the baby include low blood sugar, jaundice, and a higher susceptibility to obesity. The prescribed treatment to protect both the mother and the baby include a high calorie diet, moderate to intense exercise, and regular insulin administration.

Double diabetes

Double diabetes, also known as hybrid diabetes, develops as a complication to type 1 DM. Patients with this type end up building insulin resistance against the type 1 insulin therapy and acquire symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Obesity is the most common cause among type 1 diabetics. The insulin leads to further weight gain, thus a healthy diet is required during therapy in order to stay healthy. The best preventative measure against double diabetes is adopting a healthy lifestyle that facilitates a good physical condition.


Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults occurs when an adult gets type 1 DM. The symptoms of this diabetes are the same as those of the other kinds of diabetes and progress much slower. It is another autoimmune response prompted by high blood sugar that results in antibodies attacking the pancreas. At the onset, blood sugar with LADA is controlled with exercise and diet. As the disease progresses, patients may have to take oral medication and insulin therapy.


Maturity onset diabetes of the young is different from other types of diabetes and is caused by a mutation in an autosomal dominant gene that affects insulin production. MODY is relatively rare, affecting only up to 2% of diabetes patients and is often misdiagnosed as type 1 or 2 DM because of similar symptoms. MODY is not connected to obesity and may occur among those in the average weight range. Complications of MODY depend on the gene mutation and can include low blood sugar at childhood, uterine abnormalities, and gout. MODY can be easily detected through genetic testing. Sulfonylurea is a prescribed medication for MODY, as are the typical insulin therapy injections. Some types of MODY are so mild they do not even need treatment and can simply be handled by living healthily.

Secondary diabetes

Secondary diabetes is caused by a previous or current medical condition that ends up affecting the body’s blood sugar. It may develop from illnesses that attack the pancreas, such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and glucagonoma. Cystic fibrosis affects the pancreas as well and leads to cystic fibrosis-related diabetes. Most of these conditions lead to insulin resistance and a loss of insulin-producing capability in the pancreas. Secondary diabetes may also arise from taking different kinds of drugs that lead to these adverse effects. The treatment for this type depends on the original condition that gave rise to the diabetes. Insulin therapy and diabetes medication are applicable to most types of secondary diabetes.

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