TUESDAY, Oct. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) – It’s not always easy – even for doctors – to tell if someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes when they’re diagnosed as an adult.
And a new study finds mistakes are common.
That’s what happened to British Prime Minister Theresa May when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012. She was in her 50s at the time. Despite having all of the symptoms common to type 1 diabetes, including rapid weight loss, her doctor initially said she had type 2 diabetes.
After the prescribed medications didn’t help, May’s doctor ran more tests and realized she had type 1 diabetes. Her daily regimen was quickly changed from oral medications to injections of the hormone insulin.
“My very first reaction was that it’s impossible because at my age you don’t get it,” May told Diabetes U.K. “But then my reaction was: ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to inject’ and thinking about what that would mean in practical terms.”
So, how do doctors mix up the two conditions?
It’s really hard to tell the difference in adults, study author Dr. Nick Thomas said.
“In childhood, almost all diabetes is as a result of type 1 diabetes. After 30 years of age [there’s] a dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes, and type 1 represents less than 5 percent of all cases of diabetes, so trying to identify cases is like finding a needle in a haystack,” Thomas said. He’s a clinical academic fellow at the University of Exeter in England.
There’s also a common misconception that type 1 diabetes can only occur in children. But that’s not the case.
By Serena Gordon