A new form of diabetes is making an appearance.
It’s got symptoms of both types 1 and 2, which makes diagnosis more difficult
and treatment more complex. Some doctors call it “diabetes one and a half.”
Others call it double diabetes. And most believe that obesity is the probable
Type 1 diabetes occurs when
the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Researchers don’t know why this
happens. There are theories that type 1 is genetic, that it is caused by a virus
or that it’s the result of some type of trauma to the pancreas. People with type
1 have to take insulin injections.
In type 2, your pancreas
produces insulin, but your body typically doesn’t use the insulin efficiently.
Many people who have type 2 can control their diabetes with a healthy diet and
regular exercise, but some need to take medication. And some people with type 2
even need to take insulin to keep their blood sugar under control.
When double diabetes
occurs, one type of diabetes is usually already present. For example, a child
may have type 1, gain weight and then develop type 2. Or a person who has type 2
may begin to realize that treatment no longer seems to working. Blood tests may
reveal that type 1 is also present.
One theory about the cause
of double diabetes is that obesity puts stress on the beta cells of the
pancreas, which can make them more vulnerable to an attack by the immune system.
How does double diabetes
affect treatment and complications?
Since double diabetes is so new, it’s impossible
to know for sure how it will affect people in the long-term. But many
researchers are concerned that the complications of diabetes—heart disease,
kidney problems, nerve damage, vision problems and others—could be more severe
if they do develop. And people who have double diabetes will probably need to
take more medications than they had been.
A healthy lifestyle is
If you have diabetes now, your best bet for
reducing your risk of developing double diabetes is to keep your weight under
control through diet and exercise. And if you begin to notice that your current
treatment for diabetes doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to, be sure
to see your doctor.
American Diabetes Association