Today we’re talking about some of the less common forms of diabetes. Here’s a brief overview of some of the different types of diabetes with which you might not be familiar.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease meaning the body’s own immune system that normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses mistakenly attacks the beta cells of the pancreas that produces insulin. You might have heard it called Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes because this type of diabetes typically occurs in young children and young adults. However, type 1 diabetes can happen at any age and has been increasingly diagnosed in older individuals in recent years, so these two names are somewhat outdated and type 1 diabetes has become the preferred name. It accounts for only 5–10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. For people with this type of diabetes, glucose cannot enter the cells of the body for energy which results in high blood sugars. Since the body cannot produce any insulin, an outside source of insulin is needed for survival. Here are some of the symptoms of type 1. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, go see a medical professional right away.
- Excessive thirst, fatigue, hunger, or sweating
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Bedwetting or excessive urination
- Blurred vision, fast heart rate, headache, sleepiness,
- Elevated blood sugar levels
- Elevated sugar in urine
Type 1.5 Diabetes or LADA
Type 1.5 or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) is the non-official term used to identify type 1 diabetes that occurs in adults. It has a slower onset than type 1 and is diagnosed by the presence of at least one antibody usually also seen in type 1 diabetes. These antibodies include the islet cell autoantigen-2 antibodies and glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 antibodies. It’s important to distinguish that antibodies are never seen in type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of type 1.5 are the same as type 1 diabetes and may also include dry, itchy skin and tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet. Many adults who have LADA may be misdiagnosed as having type 2 diabetes so if you suspect that you might actually have LADA, request to have an antibody test done by your doctor. It’s important to note that a C-Peptide test, which tests for the presence of active insulin, may not be definitive on its own. Most cases of LADA are only suspected by health care providers when a person has been misdiagnosed with type 2 and has little or no response to oral diabetes medications. If this is the case, speak with your healthcare professional.
MODY stands for Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young and is a form of diabetes that results from a genetic mutation of a single gene. It is a rare form of diabetes that effects only about 1–2% of people with diabetes. Since it results from a genetic mutation it runs in families, with the child of a parent with MODY having a 50% chance of also being diagnosed with MODY. Genetic testing has recently become available to identify this form of diabetes. There are also different types of MODY that vary depending on which gene is mutated, with each type requiring different medication for treatment. Some types may require insulin, sulfonylureas, or metformin.
Type 3 Diabetes is another less common form of diabetes used to describe Alzheimer’s disease that results from the insulin resistance that occurs in the brain. Diabetes can also be caused by immunotherapy treatment for cancer, pancreatic cancer, use of some medications such as anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, corticosteroids, anti-rejection drugs, and may be reversed in some cases. Finally, you might have come across something called Diabetes insipidus, which is actually not diabetes at all though it has the word in its name. Rather, it has to do with water balance in the kidneys.
In order to have success managing your diabetes, it’s important to understand which type of diabetes you have and to learn to be your own investigator. Always be in communication with your healthcare providers and use their knowledge to help you become your own expert on your diabetes.
By: Lauren Szalkiewicz and LaurieAnn Scher, MS, RD, CDE