What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes can be so confusing, and many people don’t understand what this disease actually is…especially when you’re newly diagnosed. You are bombarded by a whole new world of regimes, terminology, and appointments with specialists; and you’ve got two choices…educate yourself and embrace it, or shorten your life span. It’s as simple as that.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Community awareness of the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is still very limited. I am the first to admit, despite having family members who have type 2 diabetes (including my mum), I had never bothered to find out what it means…that is, until I was diagnosed myself. While some of the symptoms are very similar, the two diseases are quite different.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes affects around 10 to 15% of all people with diabetes. In individuals with this condition, the body is unable to produce the insulin required to stimulate glucose uptake from the blood into the body’s cells to be used as fuel. In type 1 diabetes insulin injections are required to control blood sugar levels.

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet known, however experts do know there is a strong genetic link, and it cannot be prevented. Experts also know that it has nothing to do with lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important in helping to manage type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to prevent or cure it at this stage.

Type 2 diabetes affects around 85 to 90% of people with diabetes. It is more common, and very different to type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but the body is ineffective at stimulating glucose uptake from the blood into the cells of the body, due to insulin resistance. In some cases of type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep the blood glucose levels under control. Although type 2 diabetes can often initially be treated with diet and exercise, many people also require medications to stimulate insulin release and improve insulin sensitivity.

Type 2 diabetes can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetics play a strong part, however the risk is greatly increased in individuals who have high blood pressure, are overweight or obese, are physically inactive, maintain a poor diet, and/or have the classic ‘apple shape’ body where extra weight is carried around the waist. Let be know though…not all obese people will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and just because you’re thin, you’re not immune!

For more information, please visit Diabetes Australia, or consult your doctor.

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