Diabetes: Differences Between Type 1 and 2 - Topic Overview
In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack
of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or
cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes).
Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset
or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have
diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune
system destroys the cells that release
insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production
from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they
need to produce energy.
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or
non–insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age. It most commonly
becomes apparent during adulthood. But type 2 diabetes in
children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people
who have diabetes—90 to 95 out of 100 people. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn't able to use insulin the right way. This is called insulin resistance.
As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.
How are these diseases different?
Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Symptoms usually start in childhood or young
adulthood. People often seek medical help, because they are seriously ill from
sudden symptoms of high blood sugar.
The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis.
Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of
children are being diagnosed with the disease.
Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia)
There are no episodes of low blood sugar level,
unless the person is taking insulin or certain diabetes medicines.
It cannot be prevented.
It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy
lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and
How are they alike?
Both types of diabetes greatly
increase a person's risk for a range of serious complications. Although
monitoring and managing the disease can prevent complications, diabetes
remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also continues to
be a critical risk factor for heart disease,
stroke, and foot or leg amputations.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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