Diabetes mellitus, mostly referred to as simply diabetes, is a lifelong and chronic illness that affects the way a person’s body uses the energy within their food. There are three major types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, as well as gestational diabetes; however, this article will focus on diabetes type 1 versus type 2.
Having said that, all three types of this condition share something in common, which is: the body generally breaks down carbohydrates and sugars into a unique sugar referred to as glucose, which in turn adds fuel to your body’s cells. Cells require the hormone insulin, which is located within your body’s bloodstream to transfer in the glucose for energy. When someone suffers from diabetes, it’s because their body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or it cannot use the insulin that is created, or sometimes a little bit of both issues arise.
As your body’s cells don’t get the glucose they need, this ends up causing a buildup in a person’s blood. Increased levels of blood glucose can cause chaos to one’s blood vessels within the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system; therefore, treatment is imperative. If the condition is left untreated, it can progress and result in further complications like blindness, nerve damage in the feet, heart disease, as well as stroke.
Type 1 Diabetes
Often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It’s brought on when the body attacks its pancreas with antibodies, and as such, doesn’t create insulin.
Insulin is used to treat this condition, via injections into the fatty tissue through the skin. Some insulin-injection methods include:
- Traditional syringes
- Insulin pens using cartridges that are pre-filled, with a fine needle
- Jet injectors, which use high pressure air in the form of a spray through the skin
- Insulin pumps, which use flexible tubing catheter under the skin of a person’s abdomen.
Lifestyle changes are a must when it comes to type 1 diabetes, they include:
- Frequently testing blood sugar levels
- Exercise daily
- Meal planning
- Insulin injections, with potentially other medications (i.e. metformin, pramlintide, as well blood pressure and cholesterol medication, and possibly aspirin), as required depending on the circumstance of the type 1 diabetes and the patient.
Type 2 Diabetes
Alternatively, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition, attributing to approximately 95% of the cases when it comes to adults. This type of diabetes is said to be a milder form than type 1, yet can still cause major health disruptions if it goes unnoticed; especially in the smallest of blood vessels within a person’s eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It also enhances chances around stroke and heart disease.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a person’s pancreas generally produces insulin; however, sometimes it is not enough for what the body needs, or cells are resistant to it.
While there is no cure for this illness, but the good news is that it is manageable via the following changes in lifestyle:
- Weight management
- Healthy eating
- An exercise routine
- Monitoring of blood sugar levels
If type 2 diabetes progresses with the above strategies in place, a doctor may prescribe medication, or potentially insulin therapy.