Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates blood sugar and glucose. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, becoming too high when the body isn’t producing enough insulin, or too low when not utilizing insulin properly. The main difference between the two is that with type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond to insulin as it should.

Although the health issues with both type 1 and type 2 are essentially the same, there are different causes, as well as treatments. 

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that often shows up early in life. With type 1 diabetes, your body’s immune system begins to attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Symptoms develop quickly, however, there are treatments that help manage the effects and allow people suffering from type 1 diabetes live “normal” lives. 

Causes 

Our immune system helps fight off foreign invaders that could be harmful viruses and bacteria. When you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system mistakes your healthy cells for foreign ones and begins to fight them off. Your body attacks these cells and destroys the insulin-producing ones, thus, resulting in the body no longer producing insulin. 

Researchers have not found a definitive answer as to why our bodies attack our own healthy cells. However, they do believe it has something to do with genetics and environmental factors, such as being exposed to viruses. 

Signs

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst

Treatment

  • Using a glucometer helps those living with type 1 diabetes monitor blood sugar levels. This is done by pricking your finger and placing a small amount of blood on the test strip of the monitor. Depending on your health care provider, the recommendations for how many times you should check your levels differ. Another option is to have a glucose monitor inserted underneath the skin which automatically measures your blood sugar levels continuously. 
  • An easy way to keep your blood sugar levels where they need to be is by maintaining a balanced diet. It isn’t necessary to be extremely restrictive, however, carbohydrates should be monitored. Eating them in moderation is recommended. 
  • Furthermore, exercise can also help keep blood sugar levels in check and help your body use insulin more efficiently. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is largely diet-related and develops over time. This type of diabetes is the most common in the U.S. With type 2 diabetes, our bodies produce a small amount of insulin, however, it is not effective enough. Because this type of diabetes is caused by lifestyle, the pancreas can not keep up with the elevated blood sugar levels that are a result of poor diet and exercise habits. 

Furthermore, insulin resistance can occur with type 2 diabetes which is when the pancreas is producing insulin but the body does not recognize it. Thus, causing our bodies to not respond to the insulin being produced. 

Causes

The main cause for type 2 diabetes is the body not using the small amount of insulin being produced effectively.  This occurs when a person is inactive and carries a lot of excess weight. Like type 1, genetic and environmental factors can also play a role in the causes of type 2 diabetes. 

The pancreas tries to compensate by producing more insulin, but because your body does not recognize it or use it effectively, glucose begins to accumulate you the bloodstream. 

Signs

Some of the warning signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Tingling or numbness of the hands or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Itchy skin

Treatment

With type 2 diabetes it is often not required for individuals to take insulin because the body is producing a small amount already. Although, medications like Metformin are available to help with lowering blood sugar. Some of the primary ways to treat type 2 diabetes include:

  •  Consuming a balanced diet. Just like type 1, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is one of the most essential steps to treating type 2 diabetes. 
  • Get active. Healthy exercise habits, whether that’s taking walks, yoga, or whatever activity you enjoy will help to keep your blood sugar levels at bay. 
  • Another big thing to focus on when living with type 2 diabetes is your weight. Eating healthy and staying active will help with this but shedding excess weight will only help lessen the strain on your pancreas. 
  • Lastly, monitoring your blood glucose is essential to work into your daily routine. It is important to track this number throughout the day to adjust food and activities accordingly. 

Prevention

  • Exercise and weight management
  • Healthy diet
  • Maintain average blood pressure
  • Maintain low alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase your fiber intake

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