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What is Type 3 Diabetes?

By L. Burgoon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There is no agreed upon definition of type 3 diabetes. Unlike type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which are well-defined and have specific causes, symptoms and treatments, what constitutes type 3 diabetes is up for debate. The term, however, is sometimes used to describe gestational diabetes, double diabetes, hybrid diabetes or "brain diabetes" that triggers the neurodegenerative Alzheimer's disease. Given the debate, any treatment for type 3 diabetics would depend on how one defines the condition.

Type 3 diabetes may refer to a case of double diabetes or hybrid diabetes, meaning a patient has both type 1 and type 2 forms of the disease. This may happen, for example, if a type 1 patient gains weights and develops type 2 diabetes. The insulin needed to treat the type 1 diabetes becomes ineffective because of the insulin resistance caused by the type 2 diabetes. This form also is referred to as type 1 1/2 diabetes, in addition to type 3.

Others refer to this kind of diabetes as "brain diabetes." A team of researchers at a medical school in Rhode Island, U.S., first coined this usage in 2005 after publishing a study concluding that the brain, not just the pancreas, produces insulin. The researchers suggest that the brain's inability to produce insulin may lead to Alzheimer's disease, which they call brain diabetes or type 3 diabetes. Supporters of this research point to established evidence that diabetics have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Type 3 diabetes also may refer to unstable blood sugar levels caused by electrosensitivity to "dirty energy." Proponents of this school of thought believe that certain electronic devices, including cell phones, computers and microwaves, emit electropollution. The electropollution exposure causes blood sugar levels to spike, creating this kind of diabetes. Supporters believe that electropollution's effect on blood sugar may occur in both people already diagnosed with a form of diabetes and non-diabetics.

In general, diabetes mellitus -- more commonly known just as diabetes -- is a metabolic disorder that impacts how insulin is created and used. There are three established forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. Type 1 diabetes, also commonly known as juvenile diabetes, means the body does not produce insulin; treatment typically requires insulin injections. The more common form is type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes, which is marked by insulin resistance; treatment usually includes medication and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise.

There also is gestational diabetes, typically a temporary condition during pregnancy characterized by high glucose levels. While some sources refer to gestational diabetes as type 3, the medical community typically does not refer to gestational diabetes as such. It is more common to see type 3 labeled as other conditions. Without an accepted definition, many medical professionals do not recognize the term type 3 diabetes.

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Discussion Comments
By anon962735 — On Jul 25, 2014

anon141593 is right. The medical community may feel it has the right to rename Alzheimer's type 3, but the term has been in wider use unofficially among patients with type 1 and type 2 to refer to family or friends in "caregiver" roles, whose lives are unalterably affected by the disease.

Deciding in 2005 that there was another meaning for the term was the dumbest thing a bunch of doctors ever did. And it also shows how out of touch many are with people in the diabetes community, who could have told them in a heartbeat that the term was already taken.

By anon934602 — On Feb 21, 2014

I have a 16 year old son who has been diagnosed with type 3 Diabetes, but there is not enough info on these forums to understand the side effects, causes and treatments for this disease.

How does a doctor determine someone has type 3 diabetes?

I will get a second opinion but I need to know more about this disease. The forums I have been on refer this to Alzheimer's disease.

Please help me with information. I am beside myself with worry and I am very scared. Please help me with some info on this and guidance.

By FernValley — On Jan 20, 2011

I had never heard of a type 3 diabetes diagnosis, though I imagine as time goes on and the number of diabetics is expected to rise, it will be easier to determine types of diabetes besides type 1 and type 2, however many other forms there are that are equally hard to classify.

By anon141593 — On Jan 10, 2011

On the diabetes-related newsgroups, I've seen yet another definition of type 3 diabetes: A description often used for people who do not actually have diabetes, but participate frequently in the diabetes-related newsgroups anyway.

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