The Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

The Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes: Most people today understand that there are two types of diabetes mellitus but how many of us actually know the difference between them? Below is a quick overview of the two types and how they manifest themselves.

Type 1 Diabetes
This is also called insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and is caused by a lack of insulin secretion from the beta cells of the pancreas. It may be that the beta cells have been damaged by a viral infection or an autoimmune disease and so their functioning is seriously impaired. Occasionally however there may be a hereditary tendency that leads to beta cell degeneration and research has shown that a close family member has around a 1 in 20 chance of also developing type I diabetes whereas the probability in the general public is around 1 in 250.

The usual onset of type 1 diabetes is around the age of 14 and the majority of sufferers are diagnosed before their twentieth birthday. It may develop very abruptly over a period of a few days or weeks and shows itself in the following 3 step sequence:

  • Increased Blood Glucose.
  • Increased use of fats for energy and for the formation of cholesterol by the liver.
  • Depletion of the body’s protein stores.

This will show outwardly by a sudden drop in body mass that isn’t stopped even when eating large amounts of food. A sufferer will also feel very fatigued and generally under the weather.

Type I diabetes is treated with insulin which is injected using an insulin pump. Providing that the condition is diagnosed quickly and the diabetic controls their diet and insulin injections then there is no reason why they can’t continue life as normal.

Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is also called non-insulin dependant diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is caused by decreased sensitivity of target tissues to the metabolic effects of insulin. This reduced sensitivity is often referred to as insulin resistance.

Type II diabetes is far more common than type I, accounting for 80-90% of all known cases of diabetes. In most cases the age of onset is 40+ years with the majority being diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 60. Unlike type I, this type develops slowly and can go unnoticed for some time.

The insulin resistance in type II diabetes is commonly secondary to obesity. The link between insulin resistance and obesity is as yet poorly understood however some studies suggest that there are fewer insulin receptors, especially in the skeletal muscle and liver in obese people than in lean people.

In many instances type II diabetes can be effectively treated, while still in the early stages, with a calorie controlled diet and mild exercise to promote weight reduction. Occasionally, drugs may be used that increase insulin sensitivity or cause the pancreas to release additional amounts of insulin. If the disease progresses however, then insulin administration is often required to control blood glucose.

Both types of diabetes mellitus are serious illnesses and need to be treated as such. Poor management will quickly lead to a diabetic episode and if left unchecked, diabetic coma and death.

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