What’s the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes?
While both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose, the two differ in the way they develop in a patient.
What are type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes was previously also known as ‘juvenile diabetes’ or ‘insulin-dependent diabetes’ as it mostly occurred before a person reached the age of 30. However, it can be diagnosed at any age. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
Type 2 diabetes or ‘adult onset diabetes’ or ‘non-insulin-dependent diabetes’ is the more prevalent form of diabetes in which the body either resists the action of insulin or does not produce sufficient insulin.
Though the main symptoms of both types of diabetes are polyuria (increased urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and tiredness, the onset of the disorder differentiates type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Onset of type 1 diabetes is usually acute and sudden (over weeks or days), while symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually or may even remain unnoticeable.
The only medication that can treat type 1 diabetes is insulin. Patients are injected with insulin into the fat layer under the skin, which then enters the blood stream. Though injections are the most common method of delivery of insulin, some patients also use insulin pumps that deliver the hormone continuously, in measured doses through a catheter placed under the skin.
Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be controlled or prevented with the right diet and exercise. Studies have shown that people who lose even a small amount of weight can control their blood sugar levels better and may not require medication. Medication for controlling blood sugar levels is given if diet and exercise fail to control the situation. This differentiates type 2 diabetes from type 1 diabetes, as the latter cannot be prevented and must be treated by delivering insulin to the body.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is, however, possible to prevent entirely or delay the onset of diabetes 2 by leading a healthy lifestyle, that involves maintaining a healthy weight, eating in moderation and choosing healthy eating habits, and including exercise in the daily routine.
Whether type 1 or type 2 diabetes, any person who experiences symptoms of diabetes must contact his/her healthcare provider to take corrective action in keeping the condition under control, and avoiding complications in order to lead a healthy life.
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“What Is The Difference Between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes?” ABCnews.com, Steven Edelman, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University of California, San Diego, August 12, 2008, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/DiabetesOverview/story?id=3843306