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Understanding the Different Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream - causing one's blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high.

There are two major types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), the body completely stops producing any insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose found in foods for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or non insulin-dependent diabetes) results when the body doesn't produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance). This form of diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents.

Discussions of diabetes often include pre-diabetes . Though pre-diabetes is not actually diabetes, it is a serious condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes are at much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes within a decade unless they adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Above content provided by the Joslin Diabetes Center in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted November 2012

Contact Information

Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Building
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-9344
617-667-7060

Joslin Diabetes Center

Joslin Diabetes Center
A Clinical Partner of BIDMC
One Joslin Place
Boston, MA 02215