Almost ten percent of the American population has diabetes. Doctors put patients in one of two categories: Type 1 and Type 2. Ninety to ninety-five percent of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. While their end result is very similar, and they share the same name, they are extremely different conditions. Here are some of the major differences that separate Type 1 and Type 2.

Insulin production

For some people, the pancreas simply does not produce enough insulin, and sometimes none at all. This is what is known as Type 1 diabetes. These individuals need to monitor blood glucose levels and regulate insulin doses throughout the day, especially whenever they eat. They inject insulin to make their blood sugar go down, and eat to make it go up. Type 2 diabetics produce insulin, but their body has become resistant to it to the point that they require more insulin injected to create the same effect. These people use diet, exercise, and medications like pills or insulin injections to reduce sugar numbers. Individuals with severe insulin resistance use a combination of therapies to combat the symptoms. 

Diabetes causes

Diabetes occurs for many reasons, from lifestyle choices to genetics. Type 1 diabetics typically see the onset of this autoimmune disorder in childhood. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is generally caused more by environmental conditions such as being overweight, having metabolic syndrome, or other health conditions. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, whereas Type 1 has no warning signs to combat before onset. All types need proactive treatments to keep sugar levels low and consistent.  In 2015, three times as many Type 1 cases were seen in children compared to Type 2 designations. Many of these children end up requiring dialysis treatment options as adults. This is when fluctuating blood sugar levels get to a point that one or both kidneys fail, requiring the use of a mechanical device to clean the blood in regular clinical sessions. This can happen to both types, especially when blood glucose levels are not properly managed.

Reversing the disease

Almost a quarter of diabetics in the United States have no idea they have the disease. Early diagnosis and proactive measures can halt the effects of weight gain, obesity, and diet. Prediabetes is a condition people get when they have a higher than average risk of becoming a Type 2 diabetic. With significant lifestyle changes, some of these people see a complete reversal, or cure, for for prediabetes as well as Type 2 diabetes. However, Type 1 is irreversible once it has appeared. Studies are still being done to determine the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes, though so far the most prominent factor is a history of auto-immune disorders in the family.

Preventing diabetes

Prevention, of course, is the most effective method of treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the top ways to stop metabolic disorder and high blood pressure. Smoking can also increase the risk of developing Type 2 and should be avoided, particularly for those who are already at risk. Strict carbohydrate control, exercise, proper hydration, and regular medical exams and care can help prediabetic patients.

Numerous organizations and medical providers offer diabetes screenings. People can get information about specific dietary needs, how and when to test blood sugars, and symptoms of hyperglycemia from these sources, as well as from their own primary care provider. Be aware of the symptoms and your family’s history of diabetes so that you know when to seek out professional care. Once the symptoms set in, it is essential to seek treatment immediately, as it is a life-threatening condition when left untreated.

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