UnityPoint Health I Types of Diabetes

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Types of Diabetes

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes. The prediabetes class focuses on healthy eating and being active.

Fasting blood sugar:

  • Normal: less than 100
  • Pre-diabetes: 100-125

Learn more about prediabetes in our Diabetes Health Library

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood but can occur in adults. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin -- a hormone needed to turn starches, sugars and other food into energy the body can use. People cannot live without insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the pancreas and kills the cells that make insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and insulin. A person with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.

Learn more about Type 1 diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when:

  • Fasting blood sugar is 126 or higher
  • Glucose tolerance test is 200 or higher
  • A1c is 6.5 percent or higher. (The A1c is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar over about three months.)

If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn't use insulin correctly. This is called insulin resistance. Over time, your pancreas can't make enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance and blood sugar gets too high.

Type 2 diabetes is life-long. There is no cure, but there are things you can do to control your blood sugar. Keeping blood sugar in a healthy range will help prevent, reduce or delay other health problems caused by diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by having family members with Type 2 diabetes, being overweight, being physically inactive, being a member of certain ethnic groups (African-American, Latin-American, Native American, Asian, Native Alaskan, Native Pacific Islander) or for no reason at all. Type 2 diabetes is most commonly found in adults, but children may also be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and oftentimes insulin.

Learn more about Type 2 diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of Type 2 diabetes, and it may begin between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. All women become resistant to the action of insulin late in pregnancy. Women who have gestational diabetes are not able to produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance and blood sugar goes too high.

If blood sugar is too high during pregnancy, it can cause several problems:
  • Large baby and difficult delivery with risk of injury to mother or baby
  • Premature birth and under-developed lungs or liver if baby gets too big
  • Low blood sugar in the baby after birth
  • Increased risk for childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes as an adult

Gestational diabetes is treated with healthy eating, physical activity and sometimes medicine, including insulin.

Learn more about gestational diabetes in our Diabetes Health Library