In both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, the body struggles to control blood glucose levels. But these life-changing diseases have some key differences with regards to how they are developed and managed.
What Causes Diabetes?
Blood glucose levels typically rise following most meals., In normal circumstances the beta cells in your pancreas release insulin, triggering other cells to take up glucose from the blood in a very well-balanced system that is able to maintain normal glucose levels. The inability to manage glucose levels in type 1 and type 2 is caused by faulty processes linked to insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the beta cells, impairing the body’s ability to generate insulin.
We don’t know exactly what causes this autoimmune response, but an infection or injury may be a trigger. Genes are also thought to play a role. (Tang et al., Front. Endocrinol., 2019)
Type 2 is primarily linked to diet and lifestyle factors. Cells begin to respond less to insulin when they are exposed to high levels over prolonged time periods. Beta cells can also stop producing enough insulin. (Taylor, Diabetes Care, 2013)(Waqas et al., Int J Health Sci (Qassim)
Type 1 can be diagnosed at any age but mostly appears in childhood between four and fourteen years old.
Type 2 mostly develops in those over forty-five years old, but increasing cases are also being diagnosed in children, teenagers and younger adults.(Khan et al., J Epifemiol Glob Health., 2020)
Type 1 risk factors are not fully understood but type 2 diabetes has a variety of risk factors, including:
- Being overweight
· Being aged 45 or older
· An inactive lifestyle
· Your race and/or ethnicity
· A family history of the disease; a close relative suffers from the disease
· A history of gestational diabetes (Centers for Disease Control)
Both type 1 and type 2 show similar symptoms, including:
- Frequent urination
· Very thirsty and/or hungry
· Blurred vision
· Numb/tingling hands or feet
· Dry skin
· Cuts or sores that are slow to heal
· Frequent infections
Type 1 diabetes tends to manifest much quicker than type 2, people with diabetes type 2 may not notice any signs for years. (Diabetes.org)
If you are concerned you may be showing signs of diabetes, your doctor can perform a diabetes test that looks at your blood glucose levels.
As there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, those affected will need to take insulin and check blood glucose levels regularly; keeping to a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing health complications.
Those suffering from type 2 should primarily focus on a healthy diabetic diet and sustainable lifestyle. Some people may also need to take medications to help to manage blood glucose levels, symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. In some cases, sticking to doctor-led diets to reduce weight and undergoing surgery can put type 2 diabetes into remission. (Kelly et al., American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2020)
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ang R, Zhong T, Wu C, Zhou Z, Li X. The Remission Phase in Type 1 Diabetes: Role of Hyperglycemia Rectification in Immune Modulation. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019 Dec 3;10:824.
Taylor R. Type 2 diabetes: etiology and reversibility. Diabetes Care. 2013 Apr;36(4):1047-55.
Khazrai YM, Defeudis G, Pozzilli P. Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: a review. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2014 Mar;30 Suppl 1:24-33.
Khan MAB, Hashim MJ, King JK, Govender RD, Mustafa H, Al Kaabi J. Epidemiology of Type 2 Diabetes – Global Burden of Disease and Forecasted Trends. J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2020 Mar;10(1):107-111.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Risk Factors. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html Accessed: 29th March 2022
Diabetes.org. Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/differences-between-type-1-and-type-2-diabetes Accessed: 29th March 2022
Kelly J, Karlsen M, Steinke G. Type 2 Diabetes Remission and Lifestyle Medicine: A Position Statement From the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2020 Jun 8;14(4):406-419