Types of Diabetes

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Almost all people with diabetes have one of two major types. About 10% have Type I or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Their bodies produce no insulin. When diagnosed, most people with Type I diabetes are under 40 and usually thin. Symptoms are often pronounced and come on suddenly. Because their bodies produce no insulin, people with Type I diabetes must obtain it through injection. If you've been diagnosed with Type I diabetes, you'll want to pay special attention to Chapter 3, which describes IDDM.

About 85% of persons with diabetes have Type II or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Their bodies produce some insulin, but it is not enough or it doesn't work properly to funnel glucose through the receptors into their cells. When diagnosed, most people with Type II diabetes are over 40 and usually are overweight. Symptoms are usually not pronounced and appear over a long period of time. Type II diabetes can sometimes be controlled with a carefully planned diet and exercise, but oral medications or insulin injections may be necessary. If you have Type II diabetes, you can find information about NIDDM in Chapter 4.

The following table highlights some of the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes.

Type I (IDDM)


Age at onset

Usually under 40

Usually over 40

Body weight


Usually overweight


Appear suddenly

Appear slowly

Insulin produced


Too little, or it is ineffective

Insulin required

Must take insulin

May require insulin

Other names

Juvenile diabetes

Adult onset diabetes

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