The Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

More than 10% of the United States population has some form of diabetes. Type 2, the most common form, is strongly linked to lifestyle choices. Type 1, a rarer type, affects only 1 in 10-20 people with diabetes.Pregnant women may develop a limited form of diabetes called gestational diabetes.

Kimberly Bolling, MD, an expert and caring internist, treats Types 1 and 2 diabetes as well as gestational diabetes at our Bowie, Maryland, office. Here’s what you need to know about diabetes, and how to treat and manage Types 1 and 2.

Type 1 diabetes is (probably) an autoimmune disorder

Although nobody is certain what causes Type 1 diabetes, most researchers believe it’s a disorder of the immune system. A healthy immune system attacks only foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. When you have an autoimmune disorder, however, your body attacks your own healthy cells.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone your body uses to transport dietary sugar (i.e., glucose) from your bloodstream into your cells, where it gets converted into energy. 

In Type 1 diabetes, however, your damaged pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to move your glucose. In fact, your pancreas may not produce insulin at all.

Because Type 1 diabetes usually first appears in childhood or youth, it was once referred to as “juvenile diabetes.” However, it can develop at any age. 

You may be more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes if someone in your family has it too. You might also develop Type 1 diabetes if you’re exposed to a virus or another trigger that overstimulates your immune system.

Type 1 diabetes doesn’t develop because of your dietary or lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, you can control your Type 1 diabetes by adopting healthier habits.

Type 1 diabetes needs supplemental insulin

Type 1 diabetes can’t be cured. Managing your diet and staying active helps keep your blood glucose levels stable. But if you don’t have enough insulin to move sugar from your blood vessels to your cells, you need to take insulin. You also need to monitor your blood sugar.

Dr. Bolling bases your treatment on your blood-glucose and insulin levels. She may prescribe insulin that you self-administer through a syringe, pump, or pen.

She also recommends becoming aware of the complications of Type 1 diabetes, such as neuropathy, hypoglycemia, and diabetic ketoacidosis. You should see Dr. Bolling regularly to monitor your health and avoid complications.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with lifestyle

If you have Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas may produce enough insulin, but your body doesn’t use it efficiently. In fact, Type 2 diabetes is also known as “insulin-resistant diabetes.”

You may develop insulin resistance if you consume a diet that’s high in sugar. If you’re at risk for diabetes because of your lifestyle, you can prevent it by changing the types of foods you eat and how much exercise you get. Ask Dr. Bolling for recommendations.

Before developing full-fledged Type 2 diabetes, you develop prediabetes. About 88 million women and men in the U.S. are prediabetic, although they may not know it. You can take a quiz to find out if you’re at risk.

Dr. Bolling also tests your blood during your annual physical exam to determine if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which can’t be prevented or cured, you can prevent Type 2 diabetes and completely reverse prediabetes.

Healthy habits help both types of diabetes

Even if you have Type 1 diabetes, adopting a healthier lifestyle can keep your blood glucose levels stable. Healthy habits are essential to managing or preventing Type 2 diabetes and reversing prediabetes. Healthy habits include:

If you’re overweight or obese, Dr. Bolling helps you reach a healthy, stable weight with medically supervised weight loss. Eating well, exercising, and staying at a healthy weight improves your diabetes and your general health too.

If you have diabetes or think you might, call our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 for an evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations. You can also request an appointment online or send a message to Dr. Bolling and the team here on our website.

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