This type of diabetes develops as a result of damage to the pancreas. It can happen because of a condition like pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.
It can also be secondary to some genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that takes place when both parents pass on a faulty CFTR gene and is usually diagnosed before you turn one. With this condition, people produce sticky, thick mucus, which can accumulate in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. Cystic fibrosis can lead to various symptoms, such as lung infections, breathing problems, and issues with digestion. The build-up of sticky mucus can also lead to inflammation and scarring of the pancreas, damaging the cells that produce insulin and leading to diabetes.
Hemochromatosis is also an inherited condition. It is characterized by the build-up of iron in the organism. Your body starts to absorb more iron than it needs and stores it in organs like the pancreas. Excess iron makes you feel exhausted, promotes weight loss, and damages the pancreas, so it cannot produce insulin properly.
Diabetes associated with pancreatic diseases is associated with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. It is a condition when your pancreas is not able to produce the enzymes needed for food digestion. The signs can include:
- unintentional weight loss;
- feeling more tired than usual;
- low blood sugar level;
- fatty or oily stools.
Managing diabetes associated with pancreatic diseases can be challenging. There is no one treatment that would help everyone because it highly depends on why and how much the pancreas is damaged. For example, it can be possible to prevent the development of secondary diabetes by treating the primary disease. For hemochromatosis, you need to reduce the iron levels in the organism by using medications or other types of treatment. You might also need to avoid some supplements like vitamin C and iron and limit alcohol use.
If diabetes develops, you are likely to be prescribed metformin. It makes the insulin you produce work better and helps to manage blood sugar levels. If this is not enough to control blood sugar, you will need to use insulin medications. In case metformin has the desired effect, you should have health checks every six months to see whether you need to make changes to your treatment plan.