3 things to know about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Recognizing November as National Diabetes Month

Each year about 1.5 million American children and adults are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Plus, many people have the disease but just don’t know it. Diabetes is a chronic condition that prevents insulin hormones from regulating blood sugar or glucose levels, creating too much sugar in the blood. Complications can include serious vision issues, nerve damage, or kidney problems. Here are three things to know about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  1. Main Causes

    Through research, scientists understand how diabetes develops and attacks the human body. They’ve also discovered that the causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different. Consider these variations:

    Type 1:

    • People with type 1 diabetes do not generate insulin because their immune systems confuse healthy insulin beta cells in the pancreas with foreign invaders and kill them.
    • After the cells are destroyed, the body stops producing insulin.
    • Genetics, environmental factors or viruses may contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes.

    Type 2:

    • People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their bodies cannot use it properly.
    • Research indicates that excess weight, inactivity, genetics or environmental factors can cause type 2 diabetes.
    • Men have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than women.
  2. Early signs

    Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can have similar symptoms, but they are manifested in diverse ways. Common signs are:

    • Blurry vision
    • Cuts or sores that don’t heal correctly
    • Frequent urination
    • Feelings of extreme thirst, hunger or fatigue

    Specific signs are:
    Type 1:

    • Develops quickly, usually over several weeks, often affecting young children or young adults.
    • Can create irritability, mood swings and unexplained weight loss.

    Type 2:

    • Progresses slowly and may go undiagnosed for many years.
    • About 25 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are unaware that they have it.
    • Can cause numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.
  3. Treatment

    Currently, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. People with this form of the disease don’t produce enough insulin, so they must receive extra doses throughout the day. They may take shot injections of insulin or wear a pump programmed to administer the correct amount.

    Type 2 diabetes often can be controlled, or sometimes reversed, by eating healthier, exercising regularly or taking medications.

  4. Sources:

    American Diabetes Association
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Reader’s Digest

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