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Diabetes 1.5: July 17, 2013

Preston Olinger is a typical teen in many ways - and a typical Type 1 diabetic. His body is unable to produce insulin, so he’s forced to give himself injections.

“I always have snacks with me to eat and I always have insulin,  but it’s pretty much if I feel weird or feel my blood sugar is off just go and check it and correct it by eating something or having some insulin,” says Olinger.

It’s Type 2 diabetes that Julie Borkowski battles. Her body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use it properly. She controls it through medication.

“The doctor tests your blood and gives you a certain milligram of the pill you have to take to get into a normal range, which I haven’t been,” says Borkowski.

Health professionals are finding more people moving into a grey area, an in-between zone, sometimes called diabetes 1.5 - people who were diagnosed with Type 2, but over the years saw a change in their condition.

“They are so burned out, the insulin is not produced. So we end up having to put them on insulin. And that’s when we say Type 2 is now mimicking Type 1,” says Dr. Mala Singh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

There is some thought that these Type 2 diabetics are really latent, or slow-progressing Type 1s. At first oral medications work, but then just as quickly, drugs become ineffective. That requires doctors to up their treatment.

“Because Type1, you’d put them on insulin right away,” says Dr. Singh.

Whether its body burnout or a slow onset, getting the proper diabetes diagnosis and treatment is essential in living a healthy life.