Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is almost entirely genetic, whereas Type 2 Diabetes is largely due to poor diet, lack of exercise, and genetic factors.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM)1
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) used to be known as “Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM),” a term you will still hear used today. The reason for this name is that people with T1DM are completely dependent on insulin to control their blood sugars. Type 1 Diabetes is almost entirely genetic and cannot be controlled by exercise and diet; it must be treated with regular insulin injections.
In T1DM, the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, known as beta cells. Once enough of these cells are destroyed, the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin to maintain blood sugar in the normal range and you become hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). Beta cell destruction and consequent T1DM can occur at any age; however, it most commonly occurs in adolescents followed by men in their 30s to 40s.
Type 1 Diabetes possess the following characteristics:
- Generally occurs in younger individuals
- Related primarily to genetic factors
- Individuals usually thin; not related to obesity
- Insulin dependent for life; must take insulin to maintain normal blood sugars
- Usually presents initially with diabetic ketoacidosis, which requires emergent hospitalization and treatment to control extremely high blood sugar levels
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM)2
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) used to be known as “Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM),” a term you will also still hear used today. The reason for this name is that people with T2DM are not completely dependent on insulin to control their blood sugars because their bodies still have the ability to produce insulin, usually just less insulin than a regular person. Unlike individuals with T1DM, people with T2DM also have “insulin resistance,” meaning that cells in their bodies do not react to insulin as strongly as they should. As their ability to produce insulin decreases (which is does progressively over time) and they cannot produce enough insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance of their cells, they become hyperglycemic.
Type 2 Diabetes possess the following characteristics:
- Generally occurs in older individuals
- Results from a combination of insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion
- Related to obesity, high calorie diet, lack of exercise, and genetic factors
- Variety of treatments are available, although most patients eventually require insulin to control blood sugars
- Usually presents more slowly than T1DM and is often picked up on screening tests for blood sugar levels
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