Understanding the Differences in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

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Understanding the Differences in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

More than 11% of Americans suffer from diabetes, a chronic medical condition that interferes with the way your body processes glucose, or blood sugar. Of those 37.3 million people, 90-95% have type 2 diabetes, while only a small portion have type 1.

At his practice in Lakeland, Florida, Sergio B. Seoane, MD, helps patients understand their disease, providing custom, patient-centered diabetes treatment to help minimize its risks and complications. Here’s what he wants you to know about the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that happens when your immune system attacks specific cells in your pancreas. These cells are responsible for producing insulin, a hormone that helps maintain normal glucose levels in your blood. When the immune system destroys the cells, your body no longer produces the insulin it needs to manage blood sugar. 

Type 1 diabetes often begins during childhood or the young adult years, giving rise to its former nickname, “juvenile diabetes.” But type 1 can also begin during adulthood, particularly if you have a close family member with the disease. The cause of type 1 diabetes isn’t well understood, but researchers believe it has a strong genetic component

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is frequently referred to as a metabolic disorder — a condition that involves or affects your metabolism. In this type of diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin, but your body doesn’t use it effectively or efficiently, allowing your glucose levels to rise.

Type 2 diabetes is especially common among people who are overweight or obese. While type 2 once occurred almost exclusively among adults, rising rates of childhood obesity have resulted in many children developing type 2 diabetes, as well.

Type 2 diabetes typically is preceded by a condition called insulin resistance, where your body has difficulty using insulin to balance blood sugar. In fact, millions of people suffer from prediabetes — a condition involving insulin resistance and other factors that dramatically increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the near future.

Being screened for prediabetes is very important, especially if you’re overweight or you have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, like leading a sedentary lifestyle, having a family history of the condition, or being older. Identifying prediabetes early gives you the opportunity to get treatment and make lifestyle changes that could change the course of the disease and prevent type 2 diabetes from happening.

Treating diabetes

If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, medical treatment is essential for preventing serious and even life-threatening complications. People with diabetes are at increased risk for:

  • Vision loss
  • Kidney dysfunction and kidney failure
  • Heart disease
  • Cognitive decline
  • Nerve damage
  • Amputation

Taking steps to manage your glucose levels is critical for both types of diabetes.

Most people with type 1 diabetes and many with type 2 diabetes will need to use insulin medication to help their bodies balance their glucose levels. Regular office visits are very important for managing these ongoing conditions.

In addition to regular medical care, lifestyle changes are very important. That includes things like:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoiding sugars and carbs
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Checking your skin for sores and other changes
  • Having eye, heart, and other exams regularly

Losing excess weight also plays an important role for both types of diabetes.

Custom treatment is the key

Diabetes is associated with different symptoms and different complications that can vary from one person to another. Dr. Seoane works closely with every patient to develop a custom treatment plan based on each person’s unique needs, health history, and lifestyle factors.

To learn how he can help you manage your diabetes or to find out if you’re at risk of developing diabetes, call 863-644-2204 or book an appointment online with Dr. Seoane today.