Diabetes is a disease with many faces, but the underlying problem is a lack of insulin. Type 1 diabetes (irreversible) occurs most often among the under-25 set (though it can happen in middle age, too). Also called juvenile diabetes, Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. That is, the cells that protect the body from illness mistakenly attack and kill the cells that make insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes (reversible), is the result of an increasingly inactive lifestyle coupled with a high-carbohydrate diet. At first, the pancreas will try to make extra insulin to clear glucose from the blood. Eventually, the pancreas gets tired, and blood sugar levels rise.
Other types of diabetes include:
• Gestational diabetes (reversible) is caused by insulin-resistant hormones produced during pregnancy. The problem usually disappears after the baby is born, but can lead to obesity and Type 2 diabetes later in life, in both the mother and child.
• LADA, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (not currently reversible), which has elements of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
• MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (irreversible), develops later than Type 1 diabetes but usually before age 25. It is often genetic, and does not always require insulin treatment.
• Double diabetes (irreversible) is an autoimmune disease like Type 1.
• Type 3 diabetes is insulin resistance in the brain (reversibility unknown), and some researchers now associate it with Alzheimer’s disease.
• Steroid-induced diabetes (irreversible in context) can result from the use of steroids in treating asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RAs), and certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
• Brittle diabetes (irreversible), a hard-to-control form of Type 1 diabetes, which has elements of IBD, thyroid imbalance, and adrenal gland malfunction.
• Secondary diabetes (irreversible), which results from certain health conditions like cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, to name a few.
• Diabetes insipidus (unknown), a very rare form of diabetes that results from excessive urination.