People who are diabetic deal with either a complete lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes), or produce too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is produced and released into the blood by our bodies to keep blood glucose (also called blood sugar) levels under control. The higher our blood glucose levels are, the more insulin is produced.
Type 1 diabetes (formerly juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes) accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have diabetes. The body’s immune system destroys cells that produce insulin, eventually stopping insulin production in the body.
Type 2 diabetes (formerly adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age. It’s mostly apparent in adults, but is also rising in children. 90 to 95 out of 100 people with diabetes are type 2 diabetics.
Here are 8 important differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes.
1. Causes of Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin are attacked by the body’s immune system. This reduces the production of insulin, leading to an increase of blood glucose levels.
One cause for type 2 diabetes is persistently high intakes of dietary sugars. Over time, this excessive demand on insulin production leads to insulin resistance.
Resistance means that receptor cells are less sensitive to insulin, and cannot remove glucose from the blood. This leads to higher blood glucose levels, and greater demands on insulin production.
2. Symptoms and Warning Signs People Experience
Common symptoms for type 1 diabetes include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger and weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, and glycosuria (sugar in the urine). These symptoms are caused by having blood glucose levels that are too high, also known as hyperglycemia.
Children and teenagers are commonly afflicted with type 1 diabetes.
Warning signs for type 2 diabetes include fatigue and sickness, frequent urination (especially at night), unusual thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing wounds. But some people do not have any symptoms prior to diagnosis.
Commonly affected target groups for type 2 diabetes include adults, seniors, and certain ethnic groups such as African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, and Native American.
3. Instances of Low Blood Glucose
People who have type 1 diabetes can also commonly experience episodes of low blood glucose, known as hypoglycemia.
Common symptoms of low blood sugar include trembling, clammy skin, palpitations (pounding or fast heart beats), anxiety and sweating. Hypoglycemia may be caused by overmedication of insulin or antidiabetic pills, not eating enough, skipping or postponing meals, increasing physical activity without eating more or adjusting medications, and drinking alcohol.
Type 2 diabetics do not usually suffer low blood sugar episodes. An exception is if a person takes insulin or certain other diabetic medicines.
4. Prevention of Diabetes
There is no way to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by incorporating a healthy lifestyle plan.
This includes maintaining a healthy weight, sensible eating habits, and regular exercise.
5. Treatment of Diabetes
People living with type 1 diabetes follow a treatment path that includes insulin injections, a dietary plan, regular checkup of blood sugar levels, and exercise.
Treatment for type 2 diabetics includes exercise, diet, weight loss, and medication in many cases. For some people, insulin injections may also be incorporated.
6. Bodily Effects that Influence Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is thought to be triggered by the autoimmune destruction of beta cells. Autoimmune attack can take place after a viral infection, such as mumps or rubella.
Bodily effects in type 2 diabetics appear to be more related to obesity, inactive lifestyle, aging, diet, and genetic influence.
Obesity is a trait that tends to run in families. Family members often have similar diets and other lifestyle habits. Diets that are high in simple sugars, but low in fibre and essential nutrients are more likely to contribute in the development of diabetes. Natural rates of metabolism also vary; in families with slower metabolisms less glucose is turned into energy, which can result in more glucose remaining in the blood.
7. Genetic Basis of Diabetes
For most cases of people with type 1 diabetes, risk factors have to have been inherited from both parents.
With type 2 diabetes, there is a stronger link to lineage and family history than type 1.
Talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested for diabetes if there is a family history of the disease.
8. Complications of Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
One of the short-term complications of type 1 diabetes is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, as discussed in section 3. This occurs when too much insulin is taken, or when insulin is not taken properly around meals and exercise.
Another short-term complication of type 1 diabetes is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This develops when the body runs out of insulin, and can’t use glucose effectively to generate energy. When this occurs, fat is used to obtain energy.
As the body breaks down fat, ketones are released. As a result, the blood becomes acidic as a result of too many ketones building up in the bloodstream.
Symptoms of DKA include:
● Frequent urination
● Extreme thirst
● Weight loss
● Cold skin
● Abdominal pain
Long-term complications of type 1 diabetes include microvascular complications (damage to tiny blood vessels). These include eye, kidney, and nerve disease:
Eyes: type 1 diabetics can develop cataracts, and or retinopathy in their eyes. Retinopathy is more common than cataracts in type 1 diabetes, but both conditions can cause vision loss.
To avoid eye problems, keep blood sugar levels under control, and have an annual dilated eye exam to monitor your eye health.
Kidneys: If kidney disease caused by diabetes (diabetic nephropathy) is not treated, this may lead to impaired kidney function, dialysis or a kidney transplant. To prevent diabetic nephropathy, have yourself tested annually for microalbuminuria, an early sign of kidney problems. The test shows the amount of protein in your urine. Too much protein is a sign of kidney issues. Medications can help prevent further damage to the kidneys.
Nerves: Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that is a result of diabetes. People who have prolonged type 1 diabetes and do not properly manage blood glucose levels may lose sensation in their feet. This means that they may not notice a sore or a cut on their foot. Foot sores can become infected, and may require surgery to keep the infection from spreading. Other symptoms of neuropathy include pain, tingling, or weakness.
Long-term complications of type 1 diabetes also include macrovascular complications, which affect the large blood vessels, heart and brain. If left unmanaged, type 1 diabetes can cause plaque to build up on large blood vessels, increasing the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Heart-healthy choices such as not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control can reduce your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
Type 2 Diabetes
Short-term complications for type 2 diabetes include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS), which is very high blood sugar.
Low blood sugar is more likely to occur if you take insulin or a sulfonylurea drug that makes your body produce insulin throughout the day. Other possible causes include certain medications such as aspirin and too much alcohol.
Some signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
● Rapid heartbeat
● Numbness in fingers, toes, and lips
Mild cases of hypoglycemia can be treated by drinking orange juice, or taking a glucose tablet. Both options will boost your blood glucose levels.
HHNS or very high blood glucose is very rare, but it can lead to death if it’s not treated.
HHNS is most likely to occur when you are sick, particularly in elderly people. Pay attention to blood glucose levels when you don’t feel well and try to remain hydrated, as dehydration can lead to climbing blood glucose levels.
Talk to your healthcare professional about having a sick-day plan to follow.
Long-term complications of type 2 diabetes are the same as for type 1 diabetes.