Type 1? Type 2? What’s the difference?

My mama, one of my faithful readers (HI, MOM!) said that I should write something funny. I should. I really should. I’m not going to do that today. (Sorry, mom!)

One thing that frustrates me and many diabetics, is that people don’t know there are different types of diabetes. They assume that all diabetes is the same, and they are all caused by indulging too much on the candy aisle. Grrrrr, Grrrrr, Grrrrr

There are three different types of diabetes. Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. I have had day to day experience with Type 1 for 17 years. While I have not had as much experience with Type 2 diabetes, I am familiar with it. My father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a million moons ago. Which is what I say when I don’t actually know the answer. It works. Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy, but disappears after birth. I was tested for Gestational diabetes with 2 of my pregnancies, but thankfully I did not have it.

I learned something interesting from this site. Out of 100 people with diabetes, 5 – 10 of them have type 1 diabetes. 90 – 95 of them have Type 2. No wonder people assume that all diabetes is caused by a horrible diet. 

What is the difference? Type 1 diabetes is formerly known as juvenile onset. It mainly affects children and young adults. It is not caused by eating habits. It is caused by a total lack of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is primarily diagnosed in adulthood, but it is becoming more common for kids to be diagnosed. T2D produce too little insulin or their bodies can not use insulin effectively.

Type 1 Diabetes CAN NOT BE PREVENTED. Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented, delayed or even reversed through diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Type 1 Diabetes must be treated with insulin. Type 2 CAN BE treated with insulin, but it’s not always the first course of action. My father (T2D) was on several oral medications prior to starting insulin therapy. My husband (T1D), at age 4 or 5, immediately started taking insulin at his diagnosis.

Type 1 or Type 2 doesn’t matter when it comes to how important diet and exercise is for a diabetic. Even with a good treatment program, all diabetics are at risk for kidney disease, blindness, leg amputations, heart disease and strokes. After 45 years of diabetes, my husband’s kidneys are damaged. He does not yet have kidney disease, but it is something he has to be tested for several times a year. One of his diabetic camp buddies had a leg amputated, another had a kidney transplant and is on permanent disability. All diabetics using insulin, injected or oral are also at risk for low blood sugar.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms develop slowly and may not be known for years. Symptoms include weight loss, hunger, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision. Symptoms for Type 1 diabetes are similar, however T1D generally comes on quickly.

Both types of diabetes are life changers. One does not simply fill a prescription, pop a pill, and continue on with life as before. There is much to learn, from diet to how stress, illness and insulin affect you, and a few too many things in between. Previously I said that after 17 years of living with a diabetic, I am still learning. I am not sure that there ever comes a point where you “know it all” and you’re good to go. Treatment plans change, new information comes out, and different things are discovered.

All diabetes, not all the same.

Did you know that there are different types of diabetes or did you think they are all the same? Hey, I thought there was only one and it was the type my husband has, and I was surprised to learn that there were others! 

And, mom, I promise to tell a story next week, well, maybe.