We have all heard the word, diabetes, but what is it that come to mind when you think of diabetes? Here are some definitions that are not spoken about that much in the ads for meters and medical solutions for diabetes.

Two Types of Diabetes

Most people know that there are two types of diabetes, even though they generally hear about, watch commercials about, and know people (maybe themselves!) that have what is called “Type 2 Diabetes.”

And, if there is a Type 2, there is also a Type 1, eh? But, what are the differences between these two types?

It used to be that the two types of Diabetes were differentiated and labeled as “juvenile onset diabetes” (a.k.a. juvenile diabetes”) and “adults-onset diabetes (a.k.a. “adult diabetes”). When it was determined that adults could actually develop the same type of diabetes as the juvenile-onset, there needed to be a new definition and separation of types.

The next easiest way of differentiating was to refer to the types as “insulin-dependent” (requiring injection or another method of insulin delivery) and “non-insulin-dependent (able to be managed without the injection of insulin).

This non-insulin type of diabetes could be managed by diet and/or oral medication, with no needles.

To some extent, these are loosely the current definitions. The exception is the Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) type of diabetes that could evolve into the requirement for insulin, but is still considered Type 2.

Type 1, on the other hand, does not have the ability to be managed any other way but through the use of insulin.

Sub-Types of Diabetes

So, now that we have figured out the two current types of diabetes, we should understand the sub-types. We have already discussed the two (actually three) types of Type 2 diabetes, which includes:

  1. diet-controlled
  2. oral medicine
  3. insulin (usually after having been managed by the first two)

Now, the three types, very closely related, of the Type 1 diabetes:

  1. able to render unconsciousness
  2. brittle diabetes
  3. non-unconscious

In reality, the first two types are more than likely the same. The difference between the first and third is that the diabetic is able to lose consciousness due to blood sugars that go too low. This is not uncommon in Type 1 diabetes and is the type that is portrayed in the movie “Steel Magnolias” staring Julia Roberts. It is very likely that Julia’s character suffered from brittle diabetes.

Depending on the research, brittle diabetes can be described as “unmanaged,” but that is not a reflection (though it could be!) on the patient, but rather that the outcome of the management of the diabetes is non-existent or not easily identified. In other words, if someone were to review the logs of blood sugar testing (testing to see how much blood sugar is in the blood), would reveal bounces from high to low, in a frequent, non-patterned format. This will certainly be the case in those who do not manage their diabetes, but also exists in the type of diabetes that does not respond well, or more precisely, consistently to any treatment. This is often the case with adults who have had Type 1 diabetes for decades and have developed conditions like hypoglycemic unaware, scare tissue (not responding to insulin in a consistent manner) and other diabetes-related conditions.

So, what have we learned? We have learned that there are two types of diabetes, but that within those two types, there are sub-types, as well. One doesn’t necessarily have to know all the ins-and-outs of diabetes and its history or diagnosis to simply understand that those who suffer from it are human beings, the same as you and me.