Do you really know the key difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? The truth is that diabetes, in itself, can be a confusing term. More often than not, you’ll read and hear a lot about “diabetes” in general, without any mention of the type. While both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterized by a higher than normal blood sugar level, the cause, the development, and often, the preferred treatment aren’t the same.
It’s not always clear what type of diabetes someone has. It’s not safe to assume that an overweight middle-aged person will have Type 2 diabetes, just like all teens don’t always suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Since both types can have varied and unpredictable symptoms, it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. Let’s see 6 differences that are very common among T1D and T2D patients.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system incorrectly attacks beta cells of the pancreas. Beta cells produce insulin, and as a result, those with Type 1 diabetes become dependent on external insulin as their bodies become incapable of producing insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is multifactorial and is different from T1D in the sense that the body loses its ability to respond to insulin, resulting in what we commonly term as insulin resistance.
Having type 1 diabetes means that your body cannot produce insulin since beta cells are completely destroyed. You have to be on a lifelong insulin therapy to stabilize blood sugar levels.
If you have Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with insulin resistance, your beta cells are not producing enough insulin. But, you don’t have to necessarily become insulin dependent. T2D is usually treated and reversed with medication and lifestyle changes.
Commonly, Type 1 Diabetes is diagnosed in childhood, whereas adults over 40 years of age are more susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes.
However, due to poor lifestyle choices, it isn’t uncommon for teens to be diagnosed with T2D these days, while more adults are getting diagnosed with T1D. T1D diagnosed in adults over 30 years of age is called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA).
The blood sugar testing used to diagnose type 1 diabetes is very similar to the testing done for type 2 Diabetes. An additional blood test, that looks for antibodies, can help differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
However, Type 1 diabetes is often associated with higher than normal ketone levels at diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is often associated with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels at diagnosis.
High blood sugar is dangerous, but so is low blood sugar. Known as hypoglycemia, low blood sugar may cause weakness, dizziness, sweating and shakiness. In severe cases, it could make you pass out and could even be life-threatening.
Episodes of hypoglycemia are more common in patients with type 1 diabetes. Unless you’ve taken insulin or diabetes medication, hypoglycemia is uncommon in type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is not considered preventable or reversible since it is an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells for unknown causes, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. However, recent studies have made experts like Dr. Thomas Campbell, M.D., believe that even Type 1 diabetics can make huge gains by changing their diet drastically.
Type 2 diabetes is, both, preventable and reversible. Have a look at our exhaustive resources for type 2 diabetics here.
Both types of diabetes increase a patient’s risk for a myriad of serious long-term complications. While monitoring and managing the disease can help prevent these complications, diabetes still continues to be the leading cause for kidney failure and blindness. It is also a critical risk factor for stroke, heart disease, eye problems, neuropathy and foot/leg amputations.