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Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes – How they’re different.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: The Bullet Version

Over 30 million Americans are affected by diabetes. Since diabetes is so widespread it’s important to understand the disease and its different types. Sugar and glucose are at a cellular level used for energy to keep your body moving and working. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes occur when the body cannot properly store and use glucose. Both types of diabetes have the same implications and issues attached to them, but differ in their development.

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes usually appears in children and adolescents but can still appear when you get older. According to the CDC, around 5% of all diabetics have type 1. The immune system attacks the pancreatic beta cells so that they can no longer produce insulin, the hormone which is produced by your pancreas and regulates blood sugar. Insulin is also the  chemical that breaks down the glucose and sugars in your food. Type 1 diabetes is often hereditary. 

Risks for Type 1 include:

  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being born with certain genetic features that affect the way the body produces or uses insulin
  • Some medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis
  • Possible exposures to some infections or viruses, such as the mumps or rubella cytomegalovirus

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes more commonly appears as people age but it has shown in recent  years to develop in younger people. For diabetics, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body cannot use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is commonly understood as a result of lifestyle choices rather than genetics (this is the main difference between type 1 and 2).  According to the CDC, around 90-95% of diabetics  have type 2.

Risks for Type 2 include:

  • Having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity 
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Certain medications, including some anti-seizure drugs and some medications for HIV

A healthy lifestyle can prevent genes predisposed to diabetes.

Both genetic and environmental factors can trigger type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent type 2. For more information about type 1 and type 2, visit the ADA.