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The Classifications of Diabetes Mellitus

Updated on May 6, 2013

There are five basic classifications of diabetes mellitus that are now recognized by health experts. They rooted from the two main types of diabetes that we are more familiar of, the type I or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) and type II or Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). These classifications of diabetes mellitus are of different nature and manifestations according to their characteristics (responses to insulin and glucose, and/or their manner of acquisition).

Diabetes mellitus is basically a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood sugar level due to defective insulin production, utilization, and cell response. Though the classifications of this health problem vary, it is commonly manifest polyuria or the frequency of urination, polydipsia or the abnormal sensation of extreme thirst, and polyphagia or the abnormal sensation of extreme hunger.


1. Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)

This is otherwise known as type I diabetes mellitus. This classification of diabetes accounts for almost 10% of the diabetic population. As the term implies, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is not that responsive to health management other than insulin use. Diet, exercise and healthy living may be employed, not to lower the blood glucose level, but to enhance the body absorption of insulin and other medications. This classification of diabetes has rapid presentation of common manifestations like polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, and weight loss. It commonly affects persons under 30 years of age and the elderly population. Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is commonly linked to viral infections and autoimmunity as its cause.


2. Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM).

This is also called type II diabetes mellitus. This classification of diabetes mellitus accounts for nearly 90% of all diabetic cases. This is commonly linked to familial tendency and obesity. The insufficient production and secretion of insulin from the pancreas and the body’s insulin resistance of the peripheral tissues are the most common causes of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The clinical manifestations of this classification of diabetes are usually insidious with the occurrence of infections, fatigue and weight gain. It commonly affects person of age 30 and above. Diet, exercise and healthy living still have great impact in the management of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Oral hypoglycemic agents (drugs that lower blood glucose level) may or may not be included in the treatment regimen.


3. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM).

This is the classification of diabetes mellitus that occurs to pregnant women and usually disappears after delivery or termination of pregnancy by abortion. This affects nearly 3% of all pregnant mothers. This is the reason why they need to submit themselves for a screening test during their 24th-28th weeks of pregnancy, to know if they have the possibility of developing this type of diabetes and employ necessary medical interventions to minimize its negative effects to both the mother and the fetus. Gestational diabetes mellitus occurs during pregnancy and is manifested by the development of carbohydrate intolerance among mothers. This classification of diabetes mellitus not just put the mother’s life at stake, but also has a high tendency of creating fetal health problems both within and outside the womb. Large babies for gestational age is an example of the complications of gestational diabetes mellitus, this predisposes the mother to cesarean section delivery.


4. Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).

This classification of diabetes mellitus is formerly called the prediabetes phase or overt diabetes because the blood sugar level is within the upper margin of the normal range, yet, not considered as full blown diabetes. It has a high possibility of progression to diabetes mellitus or may remain in this health status, depending on its responses to other factors. Although the blood sugar level is not that high, or the diabetes is not that severe, it can develop complications such as heart diseases and hypertension (high blood pressure) if proper management is not employed.


5. Diabetes associated with other health conditions

This classification of diabetes mellitus occurs from activities and health conditions that causes insult to the pancreas and/or alters the insulin production and usage. This is otherwise called as the accidental development of diabetes mellitus. It can either be developed through side effects of medication use like corticosteroids or a disease process like pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer which gravely affects the insulin production. This classification of diabetes mellitus may or may not be reverted in case the causative problem is managed.


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