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Double Diabetes

separator 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 cause.

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 crucial
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
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