Understanding the Different Types of Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 34 million Americans have diabetes. That’s about 10.5% of the US population. In addition, more than 7 million adults whose blood met laboratory criteria for diabetes were not aware they had the condition.

Those numbers tell us at least two things: any disease affecting 10% of the population needs our full attention, and we have a lot of work to do regarding diabetes education if so many people are undiagnosed with diabetes.

At Physicians Medical Primary Care, our expert team works with all ages of patients to diagnose and treat diabetes. Diabetes is actually an umbrella term that covers a group of diseases that have to do with the way your body processes glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream.

Your body needs glucose to survive — it gives your cells energy — but when you have diabetes, the sugar levels in your blood become too high. If these levels remain high, they can cause serious health problems.

All forms of diabetes cause high blood sugar, but the underlying cause of each type varies. Here’s how to understand the different types of diabetes:

Type 1

When you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas produces very little or no insulin, which is a hormone necessary to regulate your blood sugar levels. Insulin enables glucose to pass from your bloodstream into your cells, where it is used to produce energy.

If you don’t have any insulin, glucose will build to dangerously high levels in your bloodstream. People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to stay healthy.

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is more common — it accounts for about 90% of cases. With this type, your pancreas does produce insulin, but your body doesn’t make good use of it. Over time, however, your pancreas produces less insulin, which means that eventually you may be required to take insulin to keep your blood sugar levels low enough.

The best way to help treat type 2 diabetes is with a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise. You’re more likely to develop type 2 if you’re overweight. However, type 2 usually requires diabetes medications and then statins and blood pressure control as well. 


Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when pregnancy hormones cause your cells to become insulin-resistant. Your pancreas can usually handle this by producing extra insulin, but in some cases, it can’t, causing the mother to develop gestational diabetes. 

The problem usually resolves itself after pregnancy, but it does make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the future.

Another form of diabetes is prediabetes, which means your blood sugar levels are consistently elevated but are not high enough yet to qualify as full diabetes. If you catch the disease at this point, you can usually reverse it with lifestyle changes.

There are other types of diabetes as well. If you think you may have diabetes or you want to find out more about the disease, contact Physicians Medical Primary Care by calling one of our offices or booking an appointment online with our easy online scheduler.

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