Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the world. According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, 8.5% of people over 18 years of age had Diabetes Mellitus in 2014. Now it may be even more than that as the trend is upward.

Did you know there are two main types of diabetes called Type 1 and Type 2? And, the differences between those main types?

Before exploring the main differences between these types, let us revisit some background about the disease.

In a medical point of view, Diabetes is a chronic disease which occurs due to insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. There is no cure for this disease but Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus can be preventable by lifestyle modifications.

When we consider the normal human body sugar is the primary fuel for our body cells which we pump-in through digesting foods that we eat. Sugar molecules in the body (known as “glucose”) circulate via blood flow and supply nutrition to cells to produce energy. If blood sugar levels are increased beyond healthy range, we call it “hyperglycaemia” and if decreased than healthy level, we call it “hypoglycaemia“.

It is a miracle how the sugar controlling mechanism preciously functions to keep blood glucose levels well in balanced.

The key to this mechanism is the hormone called Insulin, which is produced by Beta cells of the pancreas.

Diabetes can occur due to: no production of insulin, resistance to insulin or imbalance of insulin level.

What are the differences between Type 1 and 2 Diabetes Mellitus

There are various causes to develop Diabetes Mellitus but they differ according to the type of diabetes. Most of the time Type 1 Diabetes diagnosed in childhood and younger age, but Type 2 occurs in adults who are over 40 years. But in this modern society, the trend is the people get Type 2 Diabetes even at young ages due to “modern” lifestyles.

Causes for diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Body’s immune system helps us to fight with foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria and to keep our selves healthy. In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system identifies our pancreatic beta cells as foreign cells (or “enemies”) and produce antibodies against them. These antibodies destroy pancreatic beta cells so pancreas becomes unable to produce insulin.
It is a genetic disease which cannot prevent.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes may occur due to various reasons, out of which insulin resistance is an important causative factor. Researches are struggling to find a specific reason for the development of this resistance though.
Some people with Type 2 diabetes may have Insulin in their body but fail to carry out their function effectively. Although the body tries to produce more and more Insulin in those people that effort is not sufficient.

Risk factors

Although we discussed the causes for Type 1 and type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, there are also some risk factors which precipitate this causes such as follows.

1. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

 The family history of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
 Genetic pattern of cells
 Environmental factors affecting the gene activation

2. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

 Overweight
 Family history
 Age more than 45 years
 Physical inactivity
 History of Gestational Diabetes
 Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (disease condition in women ovaries)
 Increase belly fat layer

             

Symptoms

              Both types of diabetes have common symptoms due to excess sugar in the blood. Those common symptoms are:              

• Increase the frequency of urination

• Increase thirst

• Increase hunger

• Fatigability

• Blurred vision

• Not healing the wounds quickly and properly

• Numbness and tingling of hands and feats              

In addition to the above symptoms, people with Type 1 Diabetes may experience              

• Irritability

• Excessive weight loss, and

• Mood changes                              

Tests for diagnosis

Sometimes we self-diagnose diabetes based on the symptoms if there is a family history. Then we visit a doctor and ask “I have these symptoms and family history, do I have Diabetes?” It is not that simple to diagnose diabetes by considering only symptoms. It is essential to do a blood test to confirm diabetes. Mainly there are three tests to confirm the Diabetes Mellitus.              

1. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test or “OGTT” – this is a gold standard test to diagnose Type 2 diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes Mellitus.                              

2. Fasting Blood Sugar or “FBS” level check. This test should be performed after 10-12 hours of fasting. The normal range should be less than 100mg/dL (5.6mmol/L). If it is between 100-125mg/dL (5.7-6.9mmol/L) is considered as “impaired fasting glucose level“. But if fasting sugar level goes beyond 125mg/dL (6.9mmol/L) in two separate occasions we can confirm Diabetes Mellitus.                              

3. “HbA1C” Test. In this test, doctors check for Glycated Haemoglobin level, which shows the concentration of sugar molecules-bonded haemoglobin in our blood. If HbA1C more or equal to 6.5%, it’s considered as Diabetes. We can perform this test at any time.

             

To differentiate Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, doctors do a blood test to detect antibody levels. If antibodies are found in the blood sample it is considered as Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

Treatment options

For Type 1 Diabetes, the only viable treatment is Insulin. Sadly, there is no cure for Type 1 because the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells producing Insulin. People with this type of diabetes need regular insulin injections.

For Type 2 Diabetes there are several treatment options.

1. Modify the lifestyle and the diet because nutrition management is part of treatment. Strategies include:

o Regular exercises
o Reduce weight
o Keep the Body Mass Index between 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2
o Diet and individualised meal planning, and
o Many more live-healthy strategies…

2. Take oral drugs to control blood sugar level. Drugs may help to enhance the action of insulin.

3. Insulin treatment
Insulin need when oral diabetes drugs are failed to maintain the blood sugar level within a healthy range.

Complications

Both types of Diabetes show the same complications as most of them are due to poor blood sugar control.

Main complications are as follows.

High blood pressure
• Hypoglycaemic or hyperglycaemic attacks
Peripheral neuropathy (Sickness of nerves commonly in legs)
• Heart diseases
• Infections mainly in foot and skin.

In this article, we have discussed many differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Finally, if you have diabetes the most important things to do are,
 monitoring blood sugar level regularly,
 taking treatment timely, and
 Controlling blood sugar level optimally.

The medical practice considers they are as the pillars for having a quality life when you live with diabetes.

How to test for HbA1c at home?

A1C Now+ Device

12 Comments

  1. Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and good info.

    Honestly, I don’t think many people know the differences about these 2 types of diabetes. 

    My father in law has type 2, since it is insuline (sugar) related, but many people think that diabetes is diabetes. Which isn’t true of course, let us say that if he performs a very good diet, he even can get much better, which in type 1 is impossible. 

    Im going to share this post because this can save lifes. Thanks a lot ! 

    Reply
    • Shani

      Thanks, Emmanuel for your kind words.

      I am glad you found the article useful. You are correct in saying Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed with a healthy lifestyle, which is not the case with Type 1 Diabetes.

      Yes, feel free to share the article with anyone. You can be in touch via https://www.facebook.com/MediChannel.Org/ and https://twitter.com/MediChannel too.

      Take care.

      Reply
  2. Fasuan

    I’ve been doing some projects concerning this disease and according to research, In some populations, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing to epidemic proportions. The primary result of autoimmune destruction of beta cells is type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is found in people with insulin resistance, usually due to obesity and insulin secretion deficiency. In Type 1, the use of insulin not only prevents hyperglycemic emergencies but is also the best safeguard to avoid long – term diabetes complications by correcting fasting and postprandial hyperglycemia. 

    I’m looking forward to reading from you, your article has been helpful. 

    Reply
    • MediChannel

      Hi Fasuan,

      We are glad you found the information useful and thanks for contributing to the knowledge base.

      Best wishes.

      Reply
  3. akshaysaxena

    Very educational post, Shani. I never knew this much about diabetes. After reading your article I’m feeling much informed and confident within. In my own family, 2 people have diabetes, they’re fairly old and I know how much they resist going to visit any medical doctor. I hope such article will enhance their knowledge about their disease. 

    As you’ve mentioned that it is common after the age of 45, is their any possibility of diabetes for children below 18? 

    Thanks a lot for sharing this article. I sincerely look forward to more of such education. I’m glad that I’ve visited your website. 

    Reply
    • MediChannel

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience.

      Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed during childhood. Type 2 diabetes was decades ago seen only in middle age or older adults. However, with the rise of obesity in children, type 2 diabetes is now being increasingly diagnosed in children.

      We are glad that you found the information useful.

      Reply
  4. matthew

    hi Shani

    What a fantastic article about Diabetes and thank you for sharing it with me. I found it very informative and useful.

    It is a scary thing which I have found out from my brother who was into his forties when his type two Diabetes struck. His big toe on his right foot totally swelled up and split and looked a complete mess. He could hardly walk so was rushed to the hospital and it was discovered that this is what had caused this to happen. His toe became so bad he was told he may have to loose it in an operation.

    It shocked the whole family and since we have all been tested through our doctors as we thought it might be hereditary, and run throughout the family. IT is better to be safe than sorry.

    Thankfully his issues have cleared up with the toe still in place but he has had to change his whole diet and lifestyle as this disease will never go away and he has to live with that. It still scares me as I see him eating rich food once in a while and pray this does not happen again to him. It is so hard to change old eating habits.

    Anyone who is not sure should go to there doctors and have some simple blood tests done, then you don’t have to go through what we went through.

    Good luck to you and thanks again for shedding some light on Diabetes.

    Reply
    • Shani

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your brothers experience with diabetes. As you noted, if not identified early and managed well, diabetes could bring life-threatening consequences.

      For anyone with a family history of diabetes, it is safe to get their blood tested for diabetes once every few years depending on other health conditions they may have. Do not ignore the early warning signs of diabetes but be mindful of them. If you ever experience any early symptoms, that is a good time to visit your doctor for a health check-up.

      I am sure with all the knowledge you gain by being a part of our community and by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, anyone in your family can be well ahead in the battle against Type 2 Diabetes.

      Best wishes and take care.

      Reply
  5. Achievers

    Hi Shani. Thank you for the explicit information on diabetes. You really did a good job in taking time to compile this article together to share with us. I have learnt a lot about diabetes through your informative article. I think all I have to do to prevent diabetes to watch my food intake, especially sugary food. My question is that is it possible for a pregnant woman to have diabetes? And will the baby in the womb be affected? Thank you. 

    Reply
    • Shani

      Hi there,

      Thanks for the question.

      Yes, pregnant women can experience diabetes. This temporary condition is called ‘gestational diabetes’ and usually develops between 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy with no prior diagnosis or history of diabetes. Therefore, in most of the countries, women should be tested for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy.

      We have all your questions covered in this article https://themedichannel.com/gestational-diabetes/.

      I hope this helps.

      Reply
  6. Iiyamb

    Very well explain. I also notice most people who use to be overweight have diabetes. . Means sugar is not good for our health “If blood sugar levels are increased beyond healthy range, we call it “hyperglycaemia” and if decreased than healthy level, we call it “hypoglycaemia“.”. I am so addicted to eat sugar.

    Reply

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