Nutrition Articles

Types of Diabetes

The Similarities & Differences of the 3 Types of Diabetes

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Who’s at risk?
The risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include advanced age, obesity (80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight), a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes (see below), physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.  African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Can it be prevented?
There are many ways to prevent this form of diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and getting sensible amounts of physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy weight can help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes appear gradually, but some people who have type 2 diabetes won’t have any symptoms at all. Many symptoms are similar to those of type 1 diabetes, such as increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, blurred vision and fatigue. Other signs include frequent infections and slow-healing wounds.

How is it treated?
People with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose levels by following a healthy diet and exercise program, losing excess weight and using medication prescribed by their doctors.

Gestational Diabetes
Some women develop this form of diabetes during the third trimester of pregnancy, in which the body still manufactures insulin, but pregnancy hormones prevent insulin from working properly. Treatment is necessary to prevent the abnormally high blood sugar levels from injuring the fetus.

Who’s at risk?
Gestational diabetes is more common among certain racial/ethnic groups (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians). It also occurs more frequently among women who are over 25 years old, are obese, have a family history of diabetes, or have previously delivered a baby that weighed over 9 pounds. Although the gestational diabetes usually resolves itself after delivery, 5% to10% of women with gestational diabetes are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after delivery, and 20% to 50% will develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years.

Can it be prevented?
The risk for developing gestational diabetes can be lowered by losing excess weight and staying physically active prior to conception, and then continuing to make healthy food choices and staying physically active during pregnancy. Women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes can lower their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by continuing these healthy habits after delivery, breastfeeding their children, and visiting their doctors regularly for checkups.

What are the symptoms?
Usually, gestational diabetes doesn’t have any symptoms. But when symptoms occur, they are very similar to those of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes: increased thirst and urination, persistent hunger, weight loss despite increases in appetite, blurred vision, and severe fatigue. Other signs include nausea, vomiting, and frequent infections to the bladder, vagina and/or skin.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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