Types of Diabetes.

Knowing which Diabetes type you have is important for managing it effectively.

Types of Diabetes.

Your Diabetes type is important for effectively managing your condition.

Being diagnosed with Diabetes may have left you feeling a bit shaken. We help you understand your Diabetes Type, and why your diagnosis isn’t the end of life as you know it.

Types of Diabetes

There are three primary types of Diabetes, although new research suggests there may be up to five (Whiteman, 2018). Research published by The Lancet suggests that redefining the Types in line with genetic predisposition could simplify treatment. Until this takes root among medical communities, these three Types are still used to diagnose and treat Diabetics, worldwide:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes (Insulin Dependent or Juvenile Diabetes) occurs when your pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is required for your body to process glucose in your bloodstream.  If you’re diagnosed with this Type, your blood glucose levels are too high, and you need an intervention.

It’s considered an autoimmune disease, which develops at any stage of your life. It results from the death of Beta cells inside your pancreas, which produce and secrete insulin inside your body. If you have this Diabetes Type, you need to regularly inject yourself with insulin and adopt a Diabetic-friendly diet.

Approximately 10% of Diabetics are now reported as Type 1, globally. It usually starts in people under the age of 30 (including very young children and infants), with sudden and dramatic onset. Left untreated, your high blood glucose level can be fatal.

Type 1 never goes away. There is no cure; only treatment and management plans, adapted for your unique body and needs. Because each person differs, your doctor or clinic sister must advise you on your unique treatment and management plan.

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Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes (Adult or Maturity Onset Diabetes) occurs when your pancreas produces insufficient insulin, or the body can’t use what’s been produced. This type of Diabetes is largely diagnosed as a result of lifestyle. It can be avoided and managed by eating appropriately and exercising consistently.

Insulin-producing Beta cells, in Type 2 Diabetes, are present and functional, but are overworked. This happens because the demand for insulin, created by the presence of glucose in the bloodstream, is just too high. Whatever insulin does get secreted, becomes ineffective for processing such high sugar levels in your body. Eventually this leads to a state called Insulin Resistance.

Type 2 Diabetes develops as your body battles to produce insulin, and your blood glucose levels become unmanageable. In many respects, the overconsumption of sugar and sugar-filled products has been closely linked to Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 is most commonly managed by following a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and excess carbohydrates, and making sure you get enough exercise. If it intensifies, you may need Diabetic medication or insulin to help your body effectively regulate its blood glucose.

This Type also stays with you for life. There is no cure; only treatment and management plans that can be adapted for your body and requirements. An estimated 85 – 90% of all people diagnosed with Diabetes have Type 2. Many people who have this condition are unfortunately undiagnosed. It’s most common in people over the age of 40; people who are overweight; don’t exercise intensively or regularly enough and people with chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) and cholesterol.

Although Type 2 is in itself not life-threatening, in many ways it is even more dangerous than Type 1. The onset of Type 2 is gradual and hard to detect. High blood glucose levels over a long period of time can cause serious damage to the delicate parts of the body. It can also lead to impotence in men, blindness, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation. Type 1 is normally diagnosed quite quickly and early on, whereas Type 2 can be a silent killer that goes undetected until it is too late.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes develops only in pregnant mothers, and usually dissipates after they have given birth. Gestational Diabetes occurs when pregnant mothers develop excessively high blood glucose levels, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin. Gestational Diabetes is most commonly treated through bedrest and mothers often have to deliver a little earlier than expected, to ensure their health and the health of their baby.

Gestational Diabetes is something your doctor or clinic sister will check for during your checkups. After you’ve given birth, there is an elevated risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes along the way, but your doctor or clinic sister will advise you on your best course of action.


Diabetes.co.uk. 2019. Diabetes types. 15 January. Article online. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-types.html [Accessed 7 November 2019].

International Diabetes Federation. n.d. What is diabetes?. Web page online. Available at: https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes.html [Accessed 7 November 2019].

Pietrangelo, A. 2018. What are the different types of diabetes? Healthline. 28 June. Article online. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/types-of-diabetes [Accessed 7 November 2019].

WebMD. 2019. Types of diabetes mellitus. Web page online. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/types-of-diabetes-mellitus#1 [Accessed 7 November 2019].

Whiteman, H. 2018. Diabetes: study proposes five types, not two. Medical News Today. 2 March. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321097.php [Accessed 7 November 2019].

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:


  • 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor Diabetic control needs attention.

What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

What are the first signs of Diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.

Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

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