Understanding Diabetes: Type I Versus Type II
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases that occur when blood sugar or levels are consistently high. Food that is eaten is turned into sugars or glucose. When food is turned into sugars, the pancreas is supposed to release insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter cells to be used as energy. With diabetes, this does not happen correctly. There are two different types of diabetes, type I and type II. Diabetes can also occur during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes.
More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. Worldwide, more than 380 million people have the disease. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is expected to continue to rise. Diabetes is responsible for more deaths than AIDS and is a leading cause of kidney and heart failure, nerve damage, amputation and blindness.
Type I Versus Type II Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are both are characterized by high blood sugar levels. Both types have similar symptoms and complications, but they are two different diseases with different causes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Insulin-dependent diabetes, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, is a more severe form of the disease. This type of diabetes is an autoimmune disorder.
People with Type I diabetes produce no insulin because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system. Type I diabetes is thought to be caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections daily to control their blood sugar. Type I diabetes can occur at any age although it most commonly initially occurs in people under the age of 20.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type II diabetes is the most common type in the United States. With type 2 diabetes, the person does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot recognize and use the insulin that it does produce. When the body does not produce enough insulin, glucose cannot get into the body’s cells to be used as energy. Glucose then builds up in the blood causing elevated insulin levels. Type II diabetes is caused by a number of factors. Some of the risk factors for type II diabetes include:
- Family history of diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet
Type II diabetes typically occurs in people over the age of 40, although type II diabetes is being seen more frequently in children. It is more common in overweight individuals but can occur in those who are not overweight. Unlike type I diabetes, diet and exercise changes can help prevent or manage type II diabetes.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The symptoms of diabetes tend to be the same for type I as for type II, although the symptoms can vary by type. For example, weight loss is common in type I diabetes, while numbness, tingling in the hands and feet are seen in type II. In type I diabetes, the symptoms tend to occur more rapidly than in type II. Some of the common symptoms of both types of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal or frequent infections
- Feeling very thirsty or hungry frequently
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
Treatment for Diabetes
Treatment for type I and type II diabetes can vary. Individuals with type I diabetes must take insulin shots daily. Insulin shots may or may not be needed with type II diabetes. Sometimes, oral medications are used instead. For both type I and type II diabetes, regular exercise and compliance with a diabetic diet are important.