Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes

Understanding diabetes starts with knowing the key differences between the types. The two most common types are type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is an immune disorder when the body attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes the body makes little or no insulin because the cells that produce insulin are destroyed by the immune system. Those with this type are insulin-dependent and must take insulin every day. Type 1 usually occurs from infancy to the late thirties and lasts a lifetime. There are cases where it appears in some older adults. Because those with type 1 must take insulin every day, and it most often occurs in children, it is known as insulin-dependent or juvenile onset diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. Without insulin to transport energy, the sugar stays in the bloodstream giving high sugar readings in the blood. Type 1 carriers must inject insulin several times a day or continually use an insulin pump. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle and is not contagious. When the insulin is managed life can be lived long and healthy.

In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin, it does not respond to insulin properly, or both. Most people with diabetes have type 2, are older adults and are usually overweight. Recently, there are child cases where being overweight and inactivity are conditions which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If a person has type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it, but over time the pancreas is unable to make enough to keep the glucose level where it needs to be.

The risk of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes differs as well. The risks involved in developing type 1 diabetes include ethnicity, climate, respiratory infection and childhood diet. Caucasians have the highest rate of type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs more often in cold climates and develops in the winter more than in the summer. Studies indicate that a respiratory infection in the child's first year helps protect against developing type 1 diabetes. And it is also found that children who were breastfed are less likely to be found with type 1.

The cause of developing type 2 diabetes is more genetic than that of type 1 diabetes. Also type 2 is more dependent on environmental triggers. Family history of diabetes is the strongest risk factor. Lifestyle plays an important role as well. Diets with high fat content and little exercise contribute to the development of type 2. This lifestyle is most common in Americans where type 2 diabetes most often occurs.

In summary, although both forms of diabetes involve insulin they are quite different. Type 1 is unable to produce insulin whereas type 2 produces insulin, but the body uses it inappropriately. Also the environment has nothing to do with developing type 1 diabetes, but it is related to developing type 2. Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin daily, type 2 diabetics can often manage the diabetes with diet control, exercise, drugs and self-monitoring glucose.

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