Do you know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes? If you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t, despite the growing number of type 2 diabetics among adolescents, children and young adults.
There are some similarities between the two: both are chronic diseases for which there is currently no cure. If left unmanaged, both can lead to life threatening complications such as high blood pressure, kidney disease and renal failure — and there is no causal link between sugar consumption and whether or not a person develops either disease.
As an aside, surveys have shown that people who undergo kidney transplants after going into renal failure actually have a better quality of life than those who must go through dialysis several times each week. And make no mistake, this isn’t a commentary on how eezy peezy a kidney transplant is — rather it’s illustrative of just how difficult dialysis can be.
Cindy T, an office manager from Bentonville, AR describes the ordeal her mother in law must go through because of her dialysis treatments — “She’s had type 2 diabetes for over 25 years and has never taken care of it. Her ankles swell to the point where her skin breaks and bleeds. Plus, her entire life revolves around getting to dialysis, which is an hour’s drive away from her home, three times a week. Dialysis days are totally shot — there’s time for little else. Plus, she’s exhausted and kind of out of it after she’s through. And she’s only 71.”
Now that we’ve established the similarities between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, let’s talk about the differences, which are pretty profound.
Type 1 diabetes is a bit of a mystery — it has more to do with family history and other various anomalies — only 5% of diabetics have type 1 diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system attacks healthy cells within the body. As a result, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, a hormone necessary for converting starches into energy.
Type 2 diabetes typically develops later in life — at one time, it was referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”; however, because of rising obesity, many at-risk patients are developing the disease before mid-life.
Patients with type 2 diabetes do, in fact, produce insulin; however, they either don’t produce enough of the hormone, or their bodies don’t know how to use it properly.
For more information on both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, visit Healthline.