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The differences (and similarities) between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes can share a name, but there are as many things different about them as there are similar ones.

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At their core, both diseases involve abnormally high levels of sugar in the bloodstream, which is a dangerous, if not life-threatening situation. It happens as a result of deficiencies in the hormone insulin. In a healthy body, insulin produced by your pancreas leads to the bloodstream when you eat to break down the sugar from food before it is escorted into your cells, where they wait to be used as energy.

Both can be treated, but only one can be prevented.

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Both can be treated, but only one can be prevented.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin at all, which means that blood sugar levels rise to sometimes stratospheric levels in the blood. Type 2 is a completely different physiology, with insulin getting smaller and smaller Effective over time rather than shutting down abruptly, says Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic Health. This is called insulin resistance.

Type 1 diabetes represents less than 5% of diabetes cases, and type 2 diabetes 90 to 95%. Other, rarer forms of the condition make up the rest.

The causes of type 1 and type 2 are different

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, which means your immune system is mistakenly attacking your body. In the case of type 1 diabetes, immune system cells go after the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, causing insulin production to suddenly shut down.

No one knows exactly why your body is going on the offensive, but there are probably many contributing factors. “We do not fully understand why this happens, but there is some data that a viral infection can trigger the process if you already have a disposition,” says Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis. “You may already have antibodies [the immune-system cells that attack the pancreas] but the second hit is a viral infection. “This disposition may also be genetic.

With type 2 diabetes, genetics, including family history, may also play a role, but here the greatest risk comes from being overweight or obese as well as other lifestyle factors, such as not being active and eating unhealthy foods, Jasmine D. Gonzalvo, PharmD, Director of the Center for Health Equity and Innovation at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, says Health. “The body still has some ability to produce insulin, but the body is resistant to the insulin.” In type 2 diabetes, the cells may also have difficulty using insulin effectively, called insulin resistance.

RELATED: What Causes Type 1 Diabetes? 3 things you need to know, according to doctors

Type 1 and type 2 affect different groups of people

Type 1 diabetes was formerly called “Juvenile Onset Diabetes”, because although it can affect anyone, it most often affects children aged four to six and those aged 10 to 14 years.

Type 2 diabetes, originally called diabetes in adults, mostly affects adults, but the age at diagnosis becomes younger.

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“There has been more of a gray area within the last decade or so, where one sees an older debut of what is actually type 1 and a younger debut of type 2 diabetes,” says Gonzalvo. “There has been more of a merger rather than a separation.”

Other differences remain. “Type 1 diabetes tends to be diagnosed in younger people of normal weight, even though they may have a personal or family history of autoimmune disease,” says Deena Adimoolam, MD, a specialist in endocrinology and preventive medicine who practices in New Jersey. Health. “Type 2 diabetes tends to be diagnosed in elderly people who are overweight or obese.”

The symptoms and complications are similar

Consistently high levels of blood sugar cause symptoms both types of diabetes and many of these symptoms are the same. “Presentation of symptoms is the same in all forms of diabetes – increased thirst, increased urination, blurred vision, worsening fatigue, weight loss,” says Dr. Adimoolam. “Because patients with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin at the time of diagnosis, they are more likely to present to the hospital with a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).” People with type 1 can also lose weight.

A unique symptom of type 2 diabetes is a condition called acamphotisi nigricans, says Vouyiouklis Kellis. This is when you see a darkening of the skin on the back of the neck or the back of the arm, places where there are folds under the skin. This is a sign of insulin resistance, which is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes but not type 1 diabetes.

Chronically high levels of blood sugar can lead to serious complications, which, says Dr. Adimoolam is similar for both types of diabetes. These include heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage, amputation and eye damage that can result in blindness

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The diagnosis is the same

Diagnosis of type 1 and type 2 diabetes is based on tests to determine how high your blood sugar is. There are several different types of tests, including the A1C test, a blood test that looks at your average blood sugar level over the last two to three months, and a fasting plasma glucose test, a blood test that measures levels after you have fasted for at least eight timer.

If your doctor thinks you have type 1 diabetes, he or she may also order certain antibody tests.

The treatments are different

There is only one treatment for type 1 diabetes: insulin replacement. “Without insulin, people with type 1 diabetes can die from complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis,” says Dr. Adimoolam.

There are a wide variety of treatment options for type 2 diabetes, starting with oral and injectable medication to control blood sugar and then switching to insulin when these things stop working. “Many people with type 2 diabetes are on a combination of these treatments,” says Dr. Adimoolam.

A healthy diet and regular exercise are a cornerstone in the management of both forms of diabetes.

RELATED: There are 4 ways to manage your type 1 diabetes through treatment – How to do it

Only type 2 diabetes can be prevented

There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, but you can help prevent type 2 with lifestyle changes. “We talk about making healthier food choices, engaging in physical activity and taking medication,” says Dr. Gonzalvo.

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