Diabetes is a vast subject. It’s one that people can regularly get wrong – often not through any fault of their own – and contains several nuggets of information that will likely surprise many.

Here are five less well-known things about diabetes that could shock even the well-versed of diabetic intellectuals.

1. Blood glucose levels change with the seasons

If you’ve noticed that your blood sugar levels have been higher over the last months, and normally are higher during the winter, you’re probably not alone.

Wen Wei Liang, MA and CL Tseng et al investigated this link and both reports concluded that patients had higher HbA1c results in the winter and lower values in the summer.

Tseng et al’s research also noted that regions with colder winter temperatures had increased winter-summer contrasts compared to areas with warmer temperatures.

Dr. Richard Bernstein believes these seasonal changes in blood sugar levels may be due to increased dilation of peripheral blood vessels during warm weather. As a result, the delivery of glucose and insulin to peripheral tissues is increased.

2. There are several types of diabetes

Alongside type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, there are many other types of diabetes. These include Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) and Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood (LADA). Recently, researchers also discovered three subtypes of type 2 diabetes.

Then, there’s type 3 diabetes. This is the proposed term for Alzheimer’s disease which results from insulin resistance in the brain. Previous research has showed that people with insulin resistance, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

In November 2015, yet another classification was being suggested: type 4 diabetes. This refers to age-related type 2 diabetes, which according to Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, has a different cellular cause to type 2 caused by unhealthy diet.

3. Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in adults

According to David Leslie and Cristina Valeri, the aforementioned LADA is probably much more prevalent than classic type 1 diabetes.

LADA, which affects adults between the ages of 30-50, progresses more slowly than type 1 diabetes diagnosed in younger years, and people can still produce a significant amount of insulin for up to six years following their diagnosis.

LADA is characterised by the presence of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies in the blood. The researchers concluded that due to the prevalence of non-insulin requiring diabetics worldwide that have GAD antibodies, LADA is actually more common.

4. Some professional athletes stay low before sport

Some athletes find that their adrenaline levels climb so high during professional competition that they need to administer insulin, without sugar, to avoid blood glucose spikes. As a result, they keep their blood sugar lower before a contest begins.

This is the case for Hibernian midfielder Scott Allan, whose “perfect number” before playing a game would be 5 mmol/l.

5. Diabetes can affect the sex lives of men and women

People with type 1 diabetes and insulin-treated type 2 diabetes will be familiar with the woe of having a hypo before “intimate relations”. There are, though, other ways that diabetes can affect sexual performance.

For men, there’s erectile dysfunction, which can be caused by nerve damage, along with retarded ejaculation, reduced sperm quality, and retrograde ejaculation. For women, sexual complications include vaginitis and cystitis.

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