Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects more than 30 million adults in the United States, but 1 in 4 of those adults don’t know they have the disease. So what are the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? In this blog, Shawn Veiseh, MD, of University Executive Physical Program explains what the differences are.
Although Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it has earned the nickname of “juvenile diabetes” as it often occurs before age 30, typically in childhood. When you have this type of diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels in your body.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. The exact cause is still unknown, but genetic or environmental causes are thought thought to be a factor. With this type of diabetes, your pancreas stops working when your body’s immune system is triggered into attacking it and destroys the cells responsible for producing insulin.
Around 90–95% of American adults with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. This type can be difficult to detect, because symptoms aren’t always noticeable until the later stages. With Type 2 diabetes, your body develops insulin resistance as its cells don’t respond to insulin correctly, meaning blood sugar levels aren’t controlled adequately.
Type 2 diabetes slowly develops over many years and is more common in adults over age 40, although it’s becoming increasingly common for children and younger adults to be diagnosed with the condition. Research hasn’t been able to pinpoint the reasons why Type 2 diabetes develops, but lifestyle factors are thought to play a key role, particularly excess weight around the abdomen, a poor diet of sugary and processed foods, and a lack of activity and exercise.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share similar symptoms due to the effects of high blood sugar levels, such as:
Type 1 diabetes will often cause significant weight loss as your body tries to use glucose from your stored fat, as it’s unable to produce the insulin that makes use of the sugar in your bloodstream. Sudden changes to the blood sugar levels can cause mood changes and irritability, too.
Many of these symptoms aren’t seen in Type 2 diabetes until you’ve had the condition for some time, although you may notice numbness and tingling in your hands and feet.
Treatment for Type 1 diabetes is always insulin as your pancreas no longer produces it, and this is why it’s known as “insulin-dependent diabetes.” Frequently monitoring blood sugar levels and administering shots of long-acting insulin at set times and rapid-acting insulin before meals is the most common way to treat Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is more commonly treated with lifestyle changes and medication to regulate blood sugar levels. Dr. Veiseh will guide you on the dietary changes you will need to make along with other changes to your lifestyle, such as increasing your activity level and reducing alcohol intake, to help you maintain a healthy body weight and manage your symptoms.
If you’re concerned that you may have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition, book an appointment online or over the phone with University Executive Physical Program today.