What you need to know about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is a lot, and it could save your life.
Let’s Start with Some Facts and Stats
More than 100 million adults in the US are living with diabetes or prediabetes according to a report from the CDC. 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 84.1 million have prediabetes, which can lead to diabetes if not not treated within five years.
Diabetes remains the 7th highest cause of death in the US according to both the CDC and American Diabetes Association, and diagnosed rates only continue to grow as the population ages. 17% of adults age 45 – 64 have diabetes, and 25% of seniors over the age of 65 have diabetes.
If these numbers are not enough to make you pay attention to this chronic disease, the complications of unmanaged and untreated diabetes may. Complications can affect your vision, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also lead to heart disease, stroke, and the amputation of a limb(s).
What Is Diabetes?
Both types of diabetes are chronic diseases that affect how our body regulates sugar (glucose). Glucose is required to feed our body’s cells with energy, but it needs the insulin produced in the pancreas to work properly. Both types have chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to complications.
With type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin at all.
With type 2 diabetes the body does not respond properly to the insulin, and later it does not make enough.
Diabetes can be diagnosed using a simple blood test. If this test reveals an A1C rating in your blood of over 6.5, this signifies diabetes.
What Causes Diabetes?
The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas instead of fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses. Once these cells are destroyed, the body can no longer make insulin.
Those with type 2 diabetes have an insulin resistance. In this case, the body produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively. This leads the pancreas to attempt to overcompensate and produce more, but if the body can’t use it, it will simply collect in the bloodstream.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes
There are some common symptoms that apply to both types of diabetes, so take note if you or someone you know begins to exhibit the following:
- Frequent urination
- Feeling hungry even when eating
- Feeling thirsty and drinking a lot
- Blurred vision
- Cuts and scrapes that do not heal in the normal time
Some exclusive type 1 diabetes symptoms include losing weight unintentionally and mood swings with irritability. Type 1 develops quickly within several weeks like juvenile diabetes, but can improve later in life.
An exclusive type 2 diabetes symptom is numbness and tingling in the feet and hands. In addition, there may be no symptoms for years, but over time signs of this condition will gradually appear. Others have no symptoms until there are complications.
Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes
The most common risk factors for type 1 diabetes include a family history of diabetes, especially if there is someone in your immediate family with the condition like a parent or sibling. It usually occurs in children and adolescents, but can happen later in life. Genetics plays a part, and those who live farther away from the equator are more at risk.
Type 2 diabetes has some different risk factors. They include the following list:
- If you have prediabetes
- If you are overweight and inactive with belly fat
- Have a family member with type 2 diabetes
- Over the age of 45
- Had a child weighing over 9 lbs
- Are African-American, Hispanic, native Alaskan, or American Indian
- Have had gestational diabetes
- Have polycystic ovarian syndrome
There are ways to manage diabetes through diet, exercise and medications, including insulin injections. The CDC has an online program to help you manage diabetes.
Understand your own risks and maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent developing type 2 diabetes.