Home Type 2 Understanding Diabetes: Causes and Treatment of Type 1 and Type 2

Understanding Diabetes: Causes and Treatment of Type 1 and Type 2

by Catherine Poslusny, Safeway
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Medical review by Liz Ohler, Pharm.D.

According to the CDC, diabetes is a chronic (long-term) disease that affects how your body gets energy from the food you eat. Knowing the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is important because each type has unique causes, risk factors, treatment options, and management techniques.

What is diabetes?

Your body needs energy to work and stay healthy, and most of that energy comes from breaking down food into glucose (sugar).

When glucose enters the bloodstream, blood sugar levels rise. This tells the pancreas that it’s time to release insulin. Insulin acts as a key as it moves through the body, bringing glucose into cells where it is converted into energy.

In people with diabetes, there is a gap between the amount of insulin needed and the amount the body can produce, leading to high blood sugar levels. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin. In type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but it doesn’t produce enough or doesn’t use it very well.

type 1 diabetes

Approximately 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Over time, this destroys the body’s ability to produce insulin.

Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but most commonly occurs in children, teens, and young adults. You are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes if you have a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes. At this time, there is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may appear suddenly over a period of days or weeks and may include feeling hungrier or thirstier than usual, urinating frequently, blurred vision, fatigue, and weight loss.

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test that measures blood sugar levels. Treatment usually involves multiple daily insulin injections and self-monitoring of blood sugar levels.

type 2 diabetes

Approximately 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

This occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency) or when cells respond poorly to insulin (insulin resistance), leading to high blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, but is usually diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults. Risk factors include:

• Family history of diabetes.

• Lifestyle factors (age, weight, diet, physical activity level)

Eating nutrient-dense foods, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop slowly over several years and include being hungrier or thirstier than usual, urinating frequently, blurred vision, fatigue, and weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test that measures blood sugar levels. Treatment usually involves healthy lifestyle changes and sometimes medication and insulin.

Management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes includes:

• Self-monitor your blood sugar levels: Remember to record your readings. These are great tools for making informed decisions about diet, physical activity, and treatment.

• Regular check-ups: This is where you set goals to manage your condition, often by measuring three important things: A1C (average blood sugar level over the past three months), blood pressure, and cholesterol. Masu. Consider ABC.

• Meal planning: A diabetes meal plan should include a balance of nutritious foods from all food groups, prioritizing sources of fiber, heart-healthy protein, and healthy fat sources. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats, high salt (sodium) foods, and high sugar foods.

• Physical activity: Regular exercise helps improve heart health, blood pressure, muscle strength, and insulin sensitivity. For people with type 2 diabetes, it may also lower blood sugar levels and promote healthy weight loss.

• Find your community: Supportive resources and community can be a real source of strength when living with diabetes. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the American Diabetes Association’s tools and resources page and database of diabetes organizations and events.

Disclaimer:

The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. This information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, evaluation, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you have any questions regarding your health or medical condition, or are seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, always seek the guidance of a physician or other qualified health professional. Statements in this article have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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