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Diabetes

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Other Types

There are a variety of less common causes of diabetes. Any condition that damages the pancreas and/or affects insulin production or usage can lead to the development of diabetes.

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA or sometimes called diabetes type 1.5) is a slowly progressing type 1 diabetes that is often misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Those who have it tend to produce some of their own insulin when first diagnosed and most have diabetes autoantibodies.

Monogenic diabetes is a group of causes associated with faulty genes that affect the body's ability to produce insulin:

  • MODY – Maturity onset diabetes of the young is a type of diabetes that is caused by a gene mutation. Several different genes that affect the production of insulin are grouped under MODY. This is an inherited cause of diabetes that is typically detected in children or adolescents, but some people develop it later and some do not develop diabetes.
  • NDM – Neonatal diabetes mellitus is a rare type found in newborns and young infants.

Conditions that block or damage the pancreas can lead to the development of diabetes. Examples include:

  • Cystic fibrosis produces thick mucus that can block the release of pancreatic enzymes and damage the pancreas.
  • Hemochromatosis is an inherited condition associated with increased iron storage. Iron buildup can damage the pancreas and other organs. It is sometimes referred to as "bronze diabetes" because the excess iron can turn a person's skin a bronze color.
  • Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and other pancreatic diseases that damage the pancreas and/or beta cell production
  • Pancreas trauma or removal

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of these causes of diabetes correspond to those of diabetes in general. See the section on Signs and Symptoms for detailed information. There may also be additional symptoms linked to specific underlying conditions, such as hemochromatosis and cystic fibrosis.

Laboratory Tests

In addition to diabetes tests, used for screening, diagnosing and monitoring, a few other tests may be used in the evaluation of other types and causes of diabetes:

  • Diabetes autoantibodies – this test may help detect LADA and distinguish it from type 2 diabetes if the diagnosis is unclear.
  • Genetic testing may be performed to detect the specific gene mutation associated with MODY or NDM. In some cases, family members may also be tested to determine if they have inherited the same altered gene.
  • Testing to detect other conditions that may cause diabetes is usually done separately. There is an awareness that these conditions are associated with an increased risk for the development of diabetes.

Treatment

People who have underlying conditions will need to be treated for these conditions, in addition to diabetes treatment.

Most of these cases of diabetes are not preventable, but maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, managing underlying conditions, and normalizing blood glucose can help minimize or prevent further pancreas damage and vascular and kidney damage.

Those affected may need to self-check their glucose several times a day. Each case will be different, and a person's needs are likely to change over time. Some people may be able to control their glucose levels with diet and exercise, some may need oral medications, and others may need to take daily insulin injections. People often move along a treatment continuum as their disease progresses. The goals are to preserve beta cell function and insulin production, if possible, and to achieve and maintain glucose control.

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