Diabetes is on the rise, and it presents a growing health problem for many Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and that number is expected to grow by 165 percent by 2050.
This chronic disease affects the way your body regulates blood sugar, also known as glucose. But what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? Is it the same disease? The answer is both yes and no. Both types result in similar symptoms which are caused by having abnormally high blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia. As for the statistics, nearly 95 percent of the U.S. population that is affected by diabetes has Type 2; the remaining 5 percent are diagnosed with Type 1.
What are the causes of TD1 vs. TD2?
Generally, Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in childhood. While it’s not always genetic, those with a family history of TD1 are at a higher risk of developing it. Otherwise, researchers believe there are certain triggers which may influence the onset of the disease, such as viral infections or other environmental factors.
For TD2, diagnoses usually happen after the age of 40, although people are now getting it at increasingly younger ages. This type of diabetes mostly develops due to lifestyle factors such as inactivity, poor eating habits, high cholesterol, and obesity. Genetics also play a part in the appearance of this disease. However, even if TD2 runs in your family, making healthy life decisions could have a greater impact on whether or not you develop diabetes.
So, what’s happening inside the body?
People with TD1 can’t produce insulin. It is an autoimmune disease which causes the body’s endocrine system to attack the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This, in turn, results in sugar building up in the blood instead of going into the cells, where it is used for energy.
If you have Type 2, your body is not using insulin properly. Over time, it becomes resistant to insulin, which also causes glucose to build up in the blood, resulting in the hyperglycemia which is characteristic of diabetes.
What are the symptoms?
Whether your body isn’t producing any insulin, or it’s become insulin resistant, the resulting symptoms are often similar. These include frequent urination, feeling very thirsty or dehydrated, feeling hungry or fatigued, blurry vision, weight loss, tingling in the feet, and improper or slow healing of cuts and sores.
With TD2, these symptoms may not develop for years, meaning you may have the disease without knowing it. If any of these symptoms do develop, see your doctor right away.
What are the different treatments?
Anyone who has Type 1 diabetes needs lifelong insulin treatment. This is administered either through injection or via an insulin pump, which is a device worn on the outside of the body, connecting a reservoir of insulin to your abdomen via a catheter. Patients will closely monitor their carbohydrate, fat and protein intake, as well as blood sugar levels. Eating healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and exercising regularly is also an important part of any diabetes treatment plan. Some more invasive treatments which are still in clinical trials include pancreas transplants, artificial pancreas systems, and islet cell transplantation.
As for TD2, most patients will be prescribed to eat healthily and maintain a regular exercise regime. In addition to eating whole grains, fruits, and veggies, TD2 sufferers will need to eat fewer animal products, refined carbohydrates, and processed sugars, and also pay attention to the glycemic index of the foods they eat. Foods with a low glycemic index (typically those foods that are high in fiber) may help to stabilize blood sugar levels. It’s a good idea to work with a registered dietician to put together a meal plan that will work for you.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. If you have a medical concern, please speak with your doctor.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. November is American Diabetes Month.