Diabetes affects millions of people worldwide, but most people don’t even realize it. The first thing you need to know about this disease is there are two types – Type 1 and Type 2. Both of these types are chronic conditions that affect the body’s regulation of glucose or blood sugar. For glucose to enter our body and fuel our cells, it requires a key. And that key is insulin.
People who have Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin in their body. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes hampers the body’s response to insulin and affects production in the later stages. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes result in increasing levels of blood sugar, thereby causing complications.
Starting symptoms for both:
If left uncontrolled, the two types of diabetes start showing the following symptoms:
- Blurry vision
- Frequent urination
- Hunger Pangs
- Constant thirst and regular drinking of water
- Sores or cuts that refuse to heal
Also, Type 1 diabetes patients are capable of experiencing mood swings and irritability. They also tend to lose weight unintentionally. On the other hand, people suffering from Type 2 diabetes may often feel a tingling sensation or numbness in their limbs.
While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share some common symptoms, they have themselves known in completely different ways. For example, people who have Type 2 diabetes are unaware of the symptoms for a number of years. That’s because the symptoms sometimes develop slowly across a long period. Also, there have been reports of people with Type 2 diabetes who do not experience any sort of symptoms at all. They come to know the truth about their condition only when complications surface with their health.
But Type 1 diabetes symptoms tend to appear early on, usually in the course of a few weeks. Also known as juvenile diabetes, this condition normally develops during adolescence or childhood. However, that does not mean you are unable to contract Type 1 diabetes at a later stage in your life.
Causes of Diabetes
Even though Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share similar names, they are caused by totally different things.
- Reasons for Type 1 Diabetes: The immune system in your body fights off bacteria and infection. But the immune system in a Type 1 diabetes patients mistakes the healthy cells as foreign bodies. As a result, the immune system begins to attack and systematically destroy insulin-producing beta cells present in the pancreas. Once the beta cells get destroyed, your body is no longer capable of producing insulin. There has been a lot of speculation among researchers about the immune systems attacks the healthy cells in the body. While research is still ongoing, it is thought to have a connection to environmental and genetic factors.
- Reasons for Type 2 diabetes: Insulin resistance is the main reason behind this type of diabetes. Your body might continue to produce insulin but cannot use it properly. Researchers are unsure why a section of people develop insulin resistance while others don’t. Lifestyle factors, however, might be a big contributor, including inactivity and obesity. Environmental and genetic factors may also play a role. Once you contract Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas tries to compensate by increasing insulin production. But due to the body’s inability to use insulin effectively, the glucose begins to get stored in the bloodstream.
Is This Common?
Compared to Type 1 diabetes, there are many more cases of Type 2 diabetes. As per the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 30.3 million individuals in the US alone live with diabetes. That’s almost one in 10 people. Out of all these people, 90 to 95 percent suffer from Type 2 diabetes. As people age, they become more susceptible to diabetes. While the percentage of diabetes patients in the general populace is below 10 percent, the incidence rate is as high as 25.2 percent in people aged 65 and older.
While men and women contract diabetes at nearly the same time, the incidence rates appear to vary across ethnicities and races. For example, Alaskan natives and American Indians record the highest number of diabetes cases among both women and men. Also, the Hispanic and African American populations are more susceptible to diabetes than non-Hispanic white individuals.
Major Risk Factors
The main risk factors for Type 1 diabetes are:
- Age: Even though Type 1 diabetes occurs at any age, it is mostly seen in adolescents and children.
- Family History: If you have a sibling or parent with Type 1 diabetes, you are genetically predisposed towards the disease.
- Genetics: Some genes lead to a higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.
- Location: As you move farther away from the equator, the possibility of Type 1 diabetes increases.
There is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
You know you are at risk from Type 2 diabetes when you:
- Already have somewhat elevated blood sugar levels or prediabetes.
- Are obese or overweight.
- Have a close family member who suffers from the same.
- Are not active physically.
- Are more than 45 years of age.
- Have produced a baby weighing over 9 pounds.
- Have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Have a lot of belly fat.
- Have contracted diabetes when pregnant.
Changing your lifestyle can minimize the risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Try reducing your weight until it reaches a normal level. If you have a problem with obesity, speak to your doctor for developing a healthy weight-loss plan that is compatible with your lifestyle. A spike in your activity levels can help as will eating a balanced diet, and reducing your consumption of overly processed and sugary foods.
Diagnosis of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can be detected via the A1C or glycated hemoglobin test. This blood test helps determine your average blood sugar level over the course of the past three or two months. For this test, the doctor might prick your finger a little to draw blood. The more your blood sugar has been over the last few months, the more your A1C level will be. If the A1C level is 6.5 or more, it means you have diabetes.