Diabetes is a chronic medical condition involving the regulation of blood sugar and insulin. When the body is unable to produce insulin to manage healthy levels of glucose in the blood stream it causes a variety of symptoms that could become life threatening. Every year hundreds of people are diagnosed with Diabetes. Although diet can help combat much of its adverse effects, hereditary factors and medical complications can leave you managing the lifelong ailment. Learning of the different types of Diabetes can make the condition easier to understand and simpler to manage.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is recognized by the inability of the body to produce insulin. The body is no longer equipped to adequately manage its blood sugar levels. Individuals affected by this form of Diabetes are suffering autoimmune problems where the body attacks itself and eliminates the insulin produced to assist in decreasing blood sugar levels. A lack of insulin risks a spike in sugar levels and the risk of coma and death.
Causes of type 1 diabetes
The body’s immune system is responsible for fighting off foreign invaders, like harmful viruses and bacteria. In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakes the body’s own healthy cells for foreign invaders. The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. After these beta cells are destroyed, the body is unable to produce insulin.
Researchers don’t know why the immune system attacks the body’s own cells. It may have something to do with genetic and environmental factors, like exposure to viruses. Research is ongoing.
Type 1 Diabetes can be diagnosed in children as young as 14 years of age.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the blood sugar levels in the body are too high but the body is unable to correctly utilize the insulin that is produced. Many people also produce too little insulin. Most people affected by Type 2 Diabetes are suffering from obesity, a poor lifestyle and compromised health. The condition also has a genetic component but can be managed with healthier lifestyle choices.
Type 2 Diabetes is predominant in adults over 50 years but can be present in younger persons affected by poor lifestyle choices.
Causes of type 2 diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. The body still produces insulin, but it’s unable to use it effectively. Researchers aren’t sure why some people become insulin resistance and others don’t, but several lifestyle factors may contribute, including excess weight and inactivity.
Other genetic and environmental factors may also contribute. When you develop type 2 diabetes, your pancreas will try to compensate by producing more insulin. Because your body is unable to effectively use insulin, glucose will accumulate in your bloodstream.
How are type 1 and type 2 diabetes treated?
There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, so it must be regularly injected into your body. Some people take injections into the soft tissue, such as the stomach, arm, or buttocks, several times per day. Other people use insulin pumps. Insulin pumps supply a steady amount of insulin into the body through a small tube.
Blood sugar testing is an essential part of managing type 1 diabetes, because levels can go up and down quickly.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with diet and exercise alone, but many people need extra support. If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may prescribe medications that help your body use insulin more effectively.
Monitoring your blood sugar is an essential part of diabetes management because it’s the only way to know if you’re meeting your target levels. Your doctor may recommend testing your blood sugar occasionally or more frequently. If your blood sugars are high, your doctor may recommend insulin injections.
With careful monitoring, you can get your blood sugar levels back to normal and prevent the development of serious complications.
Nutritional management is an important part of life for people living with diabetes.
If you have type 1 diabetes, work with your doctor to identify how much insulin you may need to inject after eating certain types of food. For example, carbohydrates can cause blood sugar levels to quickly increase in people with type 1 diabetes. You’ll need to counteract this by taking insulin, but you’ll need to know how much insulin to take.
People with type 2 diabetes need to focus on healthy eating. Weight loss is often a part of type 2 diabetes treatment plans, so your doctor may recommend a low-calorie meal plan. This could mean reducing your consumption of animal fats and junk food.
Remaining aware of the different types of Diabetes and the impact it has on the body can help you seek early intervention.