You may have noticed that diabetes is constantly in the news these days. It’s no wonder. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 1.4 million people are newly diagnosed with some form of diabetes annually in the United States.
Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are in jeopardy of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes has also been recognized as a substantial global health problem. It has even been described as a worldwide pandemic by many leading health officials.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, you undoubtedly have questions. You’ll want to understand the difference between type 1 vs type 2 diabetes. There are many forms, but type 1 and type 2 are the most common forms of the disease.
Understanding the differences will help you avoid unnecessary confusion.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes was originally called juvenile diabetes and insulin-dependent diabetes. These terms are now considered obsolete. Not only are many adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a significant portion of type 2 diabetics depend on insulin to maintain their health.
Type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as type 1 diabetes mellitus or T1DMis, is an autoimmune condition. If you have type 1, your immune system actively attacks the beta cells in your pancreas, severely limiting or completely eliminating the production of insulin.
Even though it isn’t yet clear exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are to blame. Particular types of suspicious viruses, for example, may hold the key to relieving the symptoms of type 1.
Proper management of the disease can make it possible for a diabetic to live a full and rewarding life.
Type 1 diabetes only accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes cases. This means that one in every 250 Americans has been diagnosed with the debilitating disease. Type 1 is most often diagnosed in individuals under the age of 20, but the disease can occur during any stage of life.
It should be noted that type 1 is more common among Caucasians than either African-Americans or Latinos. The disease affects men and women equally.
Some common symptoms are:
- high blood sugar
- presence of ketones, which are harmful bi-products produced when fats are broken down in the bloodstream
- weight loss
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
Doctors often rely on the results of an HbA1c test to diagnose type 1. HbA1c test results indicate the patient’s blood sugar control during the previous two or three months.
Another effective diagnostic tool is a fasting blood sugar test, often referred to as a random blood sugar test. A random blood sugar level of 200 mg/dl is considered unhealthy.
A fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dl or an HbA1c result of 6.5% or more may also indicate the presence of diabetes.
Antibody and C-peptide level tests are also used to diagnose type 1 diabetes.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for type 1. Most treatment regimens include the injection of insulin using a syringe, insulin pump or insulin pen. A fast-acting inhalable insulin product is also available, but it would still be necessary for a type 1 diabetic to inject a longer- acting form of insulin.
Presently, there are no oral insulin products available to type 1 diabetics.
It’s vital that type 1 diabetics monitor their blood sugar level at least four times daily with the help of a blood glucose monitor.
An increasing number of continuous glucose monitoring products are now available, but the use of such devices may not negate the necessity of finger sticks and the use of a standard blood glucose meter.
Adopting healthy eating habits, especially the monitoring of carbohydrate consumption, is commonplace for type 1 diabetics. A specific insulin dose will generally reflect the amount of carbohydrates consumed at a meal.
Getting adequate exercise is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle if you are a type 1 diabetic, but carbohydrate intake and the amount of insulin should be adjusted to prevent low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
There are many natural supplements and lifestyle practices that can help minimize type 1 diabetes symptoms and reduce the need for insulin.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, sometimes referred to as type 2 diabetes mellitus or T2DM, used to be known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. These terms were let go because many children and teenagers are diagnosed with type 2, and many type 2 diabetics find it necessary to use insulin.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is not categorized as an autoimmune disease. Instead, type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition that disrupts how the body metabolizes glucose.
Type 2 diabetics are often subject to insulin resistance, meaning that they are experiencing difficulty secreting and using insulin. This allows glucose to abnormally accumulate in the bloodstream.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can result in serious complications, including eye disease, heart disease, nerve damage and kidney disease.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
It is generally agreed that type 2 results from a collection of genetic and lifestyle factors. You are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 if a parent or sibling has been diagnosed with the disease.
Lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of being diagnosed with type 2 include inadequate exercise, obesity and consuming a diet consisting of too many processed and sugary foods.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 92 and 95 percent of all diabetes cases. Particular ethnic groups experience a higher incidence of type 2, especially Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Women who experienced gestational diabetes during pregnancy also have a substantially higher risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the 5 to 10 years following the pregnancy.
If current trends continue, it is projected that one in three American adults will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by 2050. Health officials also report that more than 5,000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year.
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed after administering a random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, HbA1c test or an oral glucose tolerance test.
Any of the following blood test results will provide cause for concern:
- random blood sugar result of at least 200 mg/dl
- minimum fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dl
- HbA1c result of 6.5% or higher
- oral glucose tolerance test result of 200 mg/dl or more after two hours
Some type 2 diabetics experience symptoms such as excessive thirst or increased urination, but many other diabetics experience no symptoms at all. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you are tested for diabetes regularly, especially if you fall within one of the high-risk groups mentioned previously.
Weight loss, carbohydrate control and physical activity can make a huge contribution to limiting the effects of type 2. Blood glucose monitoring can also prove useful since type 2 can change over time.
Natural and healthy lifestyle choices should always come first in any consideration of type 1 vs type 2 diabetes.
Never stop learning and searching for information, tools and products that can keep your blood glucose level in a safe range and make a positive contribution to your life.
Every diabetic needs a community of care and support.