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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

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


Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses sugar (glucose) for energy. Glucose is a vital source of fuel for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. However, when glucose levels in the blood are too high, it can cause various health problems.


There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. They have some similarities and differences that are important to know.


Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter the cells to be used as energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood and can damage various organs and tissues.


Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children, teens, and young adults, but it can happen at any age. It is less common than type 2 diabetes, accounting for about 5-10% of people with diabetes.


The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. Some factors that may increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes include:

  • Having certain genes that make you more susceptible to the disease

  • Being exposed to certain viruses or environmental triggers that may trigger the autoimmune reaction


The symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly and may include:

  • Increased thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Increased hunger

  • Unintended weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Blurred vision

  • Slow-healing sores

  • Frequent infections

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet


Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test that measures the level of glucose or a substance called glycated hemoglobin (A1C) in the blood. A1C reflects the average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.


Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed successfully by:

  • Taking insulin injections or using an insulin pump to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly and adjusting insulin doses accordingly

  • Following a healthy diet that balances carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber

  • Exercising regularly to improve insulin sensitivity and overall health

  • Getting regular checkups and screenings for potential complications such as eye, kidney, nerve, and heart problems


Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the cells in muscle, fat, and the liver become resistant to insulin. This means that they do not respond well to insulin and do not take in enough glucose from the blood. As a result, the pancreas has to make more insulin to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range. Over time, however, the pancreas may not be able to keep up with the demand and may produce less insulin or stop producing it altogether.


Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle-aged or older adults, but it can also affect younger people. It is more common than type 1 diabetes, accounting for about 90% of people with diabetes.


The main cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity and lack of physical activity. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Having a family history of diabetes

  • Being of certain ethnicities such as African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

  • Having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age

  • Having other conditions that affect how the body uses insulin such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or fatty liver disease


The symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly and may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes. However, some people with type 2 diabetes may not have any symptoms at all until they develop complications.


Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test that measures the level of glucose or A1C in the blood.


Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if overweight or obese

  • Exercising regularly for at least 150 minutes per week

  • Eating a balanced diet that limits added sugars, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates

  • Quitting smoking if you smoke


Type 2 diabetes can be treated by:

  • Taking oral medications or injectable drugs that lower blood glucose levels by increasing insulin production, improving insulin sensitivity, or reducing glucose absorption or production

  • Taking insulin injections or using an insulin pump if oral medications or injectable drugs are not enough to control blood glucose levels

  • Following the same lifestyle recommendations as for preventing type 2 diabetes

  • Getting regular checkups and screenings for potential complications such as eye, kidney, nerve, and heart problems


Summary

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both chronic conditions that affect how the body uses glucose for energy. They have some similarities and differences in their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. Both types of diabetes require careful management to avoid serious complications and maintain a good quality of life. If you have any questions or concerns about diabetes, talk to your doctor.


Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist


Kify Hospital

Danavaipeta

Rajahmundry

Phone : 85000 23456

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