One in five adults with type 1 diabetes are being wrongly diagnosed with the type 2 form of the disease. Picture: Joint Base Charleston

One in five adults with type 1 diabetes are being wrongly diagnosed with the type 2 form of the disease.

According to WHO, the global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014. Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

The conditions are not similar and require very different treatments.

Misdiagnosis could put patients’ lives in danger because they are given the wrong drugs, the Exeter University researchers said.

Type 1 diabetes, which is thought to be genetic, is an irreversible autoimmune disease which stops insulin being produced. It is treated by insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle and obesity. It is treated with diet or pills such as Metformin.

Type 1 is often considered a “disease of childhood”. But 40% of new cases occur after the age of 30.