What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Untreated or unmanaged, the primary symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is the same – dangerously elevated blood sugar levels.

The main differences between them are:

Type 1 Diabetes

  • Occurs when the body stops producing insulin. This can happen to anyone and the onset is usually rapid or even abrupt.
  • Until researchers are more specifically able to determine what triggers the causal autoimmune response, there is little to be done to avoid it.
  • As the body does not produce sufficient insulin, it must be supplemented.

Although type1 diabetes can occur at any age, the onset is much more prevalent in children and young adults.

Regardless of how healthy your lifestyle may be, that alone will not prevent you from becoming a type 1 diabetic. Today, type 1 diabetes is a much rarer form of the disease than type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease happens when our body’s cells and tissues are inflamed and damaged by the abnormal behavior of our own immune system attacking itself.

In type1 diabetes the damage has resulted in the pancreas no longer having control of the insulin or (blood glucose) levels in the body.

When the cells that produce insulin have been destroyed it results in people being insulin dependent type 1 diabetics.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Occurs over time, due to lifestyle factors, predominantly diet but often exacerbated by insufficient exercise.
  • Initially at least, insulin is still produced, but the body’s cell become unresponsive to it.
  • This means that type 2 is preventable.
  • It can also be managed, that is, the symptoms mitigated, by improving diet and exercise patterns.

Only a couple of decades ago, type 2 diabetes was called adult-onset diabetes. Although the common age for diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is over 45, recent studies have found that the disease is on the increase in younger groups of people, including children.

A healthy lifestyle that includes physical exercise, and a nutritious diet, can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetics have cells that do not use their body’s insulin effectively; this is known as insulin resistance. To compensate for this resistance the pancreas increases the supply of insulin, trying to get more glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells. Over time the cells in the pancreas lose the ability to manage the blood glucose levels in the body.

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