Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone necessary to convert sugar, starches and other food into the energy needed for daily life. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes share the problem of high levels of blood sugar. The inability to control blood sugar causes the symptoms and the complications of both types of diabetes. Usually, type 1 diabetes in diagnosed in childhood, where type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed after age 40. But these rules are no longer hard-and-fast: People are getting type 2 diabetes at increasingly younger ages and more adults are getting type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 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. The immune systems of people with type 1 diabetes continue to attack beta cells until the pancreas is incapable of producing insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to inject themselves with insulin to compensate for the death of their beta cells. Everyone with type 1 diabetes is insulin-dependent. Type 1 Diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have 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.
- Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are common.
- It cannot be prevented.
Type 2 Diabetes. The autoimmune systems of people with type 2 diabetes don’t attack beta cells. Instead, type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body losing its ability to respond to insulin. 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.
- Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with the disease.
- There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the person is taking insulin or certain diabetes medicines.
- It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly