Types of Diabetes

For a practical standpoint, there are three types of diabetes: 

1. Type 1 

2. Type 2  

3. Gestational diabetes.

 Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 95% of diabetic patients. If properly managed, it usually does not require insulin therapy.

 Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, requires insulin therapy, and accounts for less than 5% of diabetics.

Gestational diabetes refers to development of diabetes during pregnancy. After pregnancy ends, most of these women return to “normal” blood glucose ranges. However, within 10 years, more than 50% of women with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes. 


 Old classifications

In the past, Type 2 diabetes was also called NIDDM (non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) or Adult Onset Diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes was called IDDM (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) or Juvenile Onset Diabetes. 

We have stopped using these older terms because they can be inaccurate and misleading. 

For example, some Type 2 diabetic patients end up on insulin (due to improper treatment) and many physicians mistakenly classify these patients as IDDM (Type 1). 

Although Type 1 diabetes typically develops at a young age, it can develop in an adult. In the past, most young people with diabetes were classified as Type 1. However, sometimes Type 2 diabetes develops in teenagers. Actually, Type 2 diabetes in teenagers is on an alarming rise, primarily due to our "fast food culture" and a lack of physical activity in the teenage population. 

For more details, please refer to Dr. Zaidi's book, "Take Charge of Your Diabetes."


This article was written by Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, FACE. Dr. Zaidi specializes in Diabetes, photoEndocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Zaidi is a former assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California. 

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