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Types of diabetes: see the characteristics of the 4 main ones

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Types of diabetes differ according to the cause and treatment. Understand about each of them

Do you know the different types of diabetes? All are characterized by increased blood sugar levels, a condition called hyperglycemia, due to a lack or malabsorption of insulin. What differentiates each of them is the cause and, consequently, their forms of treatment.

In addition, some risk factors and symptoms are different for each type of diabetes. Type 1, for example, is more common in children and adolescents, while type 2 is more common in people over 45, obese or overweight.



See what the main ones are diabetes symptoms

To help you understand better, MinhaVida has prepared the following content clarifying what are the types of diabetes, its main characteristics, causes and forms of treatment. Check out:

1. Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. As a result, the organ is not able to produce sufficient amounts of this hormone to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood, causing hyperglycemia.

This type of diabetes affects about 5% to 10% of patients with diabetes mellitus. In Brazil, the disease grows 5% per year and reaches 588,000 people by 2022, according to the Global Type 1 Diabetes Index, released by JDRF, a global research funding organization on the disease.



There are no risk factors for type 1 diabetes. “Typically, it occurs in children and adolescents, it is not related to being overweight or sedentary and does not usually have a family history”, explains Pedro Saddi, endocrinologist at Fleury Medicina e Saúde. Frequent urge to urinate, constant hunger and thirst, nausea and vomiting are among the main symptoms of type 1 diabetes. Treatment should be done with the daily application of insulin.

Know more: Diabetes: what to do to prevent or treat?

2. Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is one of the main types of diabetes, accounting for 90% of cases in Brazil, according to data from the Diabetes Atlas, released by the International Diabetes Federation in 2021. The disease is characterized by insulin resistance, which causes increased blood sugar level.

Among the main risk factors for type 2 diabetesare overweight and obesity, family history of the disease, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, high cholesterol, high alcohol consumption and unbalanced diet, rich in simple carbohydrates and sugary foods.

Know more: Medicines for diabetes: know the main options

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

THE difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes it is precisely in its causes. While type 1 is an autoimmune disease whose origin can be at birth, type 2 is developed throughout life.

People with type 2 diabetes have been able to produce insulin in adequate amounts for a long time, but due to lifestyle or overweight, they have lost this ability, creating insulin resistance. “The increase in blood glucose occurs due to a double defect: deficient production of insulin and resistance to the action of this hormone”, explains Pedro.

Therefore, the treatment of this type of diabetes consists of the use of drugs to control blood glucose and the adoption of a healthy diet, combined with the practice of physical activity.

Understand in more detail the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

3. Pre-diabetes

Prediabetes is a clinical condition that precedes the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Although asymptomatic, this phase is marked by an increase in blood glucose levels, but without reaching the point where the diagnosis of the disease is confirmed.

Therefore, it can be said that this is an “intermediate” state between a healthy person and a person with type 2 diabetes. If untreated, pre-diabetes can progress to the disease in up to five years. Among the possible causes for the condition, weight gain, family history of the disease, sedentary lifestyle and inadequate diet are among the main ones.

The treatment of pre-diabetes is based on changing lifestyle habits, with a diet with reduced simple carbohydrates and encouraging physical activity. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medication to control blood glucose and prevent progression to type 2 diabetes. Therefore, prediabetes is reversible.

Know more: Diabetes: Eight ways to control the craving for sweets

4. Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is characterized by increased blood glucose levels during pregnancy. The cause of the condition is related to hormones produced by the placenta which, in order to meet the nutritional needs of the baby, reduce the effectiveness of insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels can rise.

The situation is more frequent in women over 35 years old, who are obese or overweight. It is estimated that the prevalence of gestational diabetes in the Unified Health System (SUS) is 18%.

The symptoms are very similar to the common symptoms of pregnancy (increased urge to urinate, increased hunger, weight gain, and increased thirst). Therefore, a constant assessment of blood glucose is necessary to understand if its levels are within normal limits.

As with other types of diabetes, treatment is based on the adoption of a specific diet, with the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reducing the intake of refined carbohydrates and sweets. Physical activity is also essential. In some cases, doctors may prescribe the use of oral medications and the application of insulin.

Read more: Warning sign! Obesity is linked to several diseases; understand

Other less common types of diabetes

In addition to the four main types of diabetes mellitus there are still some other conditions that are also caused by the lack or malabsorption of insulin. It is the case of:

  • Latent Autoimmune Adult Diabetes (LADA): An autoimmune condition, like type 1 diabetes, that occurs in adults over age 30. The treatment is done with the application of insulin;

  • Diabetes type MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young): a condition similar to type 2 diabetes, but which affects children and young people. It is more related to the increase in the number of children with obesity;

  • Diabetes triggered by drug use: usually caused by the use of corticosteroids;

  • Diabetes caused by genetic defects, pancreas or endocrine disorders.

What is the worst type of diabetes?

It is not possible to determine which type of diabetes is worse, as this can vary from case to case. However, both type 1 and type 2, if not treated correctly, can trigger serious health complications.

This is the case for myocardial infarction, stroke and hypertension, as well as conditions directly related to diabetes, such as diabetic foot, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy.

Know more: Complications of diabetes: what they are, symptoms and prevention



Content for educational purposes only. Consult a Doctor.

The translator user relied on the following source:

Minha Vida Website – REF99827

Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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