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What’s the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

By Cherie Coe, 9:00 am on

While the term diabetes is often used without a qualifier, the fact is that there are two types of the disease, with some substantial differences. Read on to learn more about what distinguishes type 1 and type 2 diabetes, presented by Jefferson County Home Care Assistance in honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Age of Onset

Type 1 diabetes, which represents only five percent of cases of the disease, used to be called juvenile onset diabetes. By contrast, type 2 diabetes makes up 95 percent of diabetes cases and usually occurs in adults. However, as obesity increases among children and young adults, type 2 diabetes has become more prevalent among this age group. 

Cause of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that create insulin, eventually completely halting insulin production in the body. With type 2 diabetes, the body develops a resistance to insulin and is unable to use it correctly. While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. 

Symptoms of Diabetes

People who have type 1 diabetes experience incidents of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as fainting spells. By contrast, type 2 diabetes doesn’t usually have symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue. 

How Are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Alike?

Both diseases can cause serious complications if not diagnosed promptly and managed with treatment as recommended by a doctor. These include blindness, loss of limbs, kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke. 

People with type 1 diabetes typically are diagnosed with and learn to manage the disease at an early age. If your aging loved one is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, his or her doctor will recommend he or she achieves and maintains a healthy weight, exercises for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and eats a well balanced diet. 

Managing diabetes, or any chronic disease, becomes more challenging with age. Ensure your senior loved one has the support he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable at home with help from Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can grocery shop, prepare healthy meals, provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, offer medication reminders, and provide companionship and emotional support. To learn more about any of our care services, including hourly, live-in, and specialized dementia, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care in Jefferson County, call (303) 987-5992 today and schedule an in-home consultation.