Family Health

Signs, Symptoms, and Management of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Nov 23 • 2015

In the United States alone, 25.8 million people have diabetes. However, did you know that Type 1 diabetes impacts only 5% of those adults? Many people know that there are two different types of diabetes, but they may not understand the differences between them. While both type 1 and type 2 diabetes result in the inability to control blood sugar, they are two completely different diseases.

Type 1 diabetes is typically an autoimmune disease where your own immune system attacks the beta cells that produce insulin within the islet cells of the pancreas. This results in a lack or dramatic deficiency of insulin. While type 1 diabetes most commonly occurs in children or adolescents, it can be diagnosed in adults of any age. Treatment for this form is insulin therapy via shots, an insulin pump, or a new inhaled insulin option.

“Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes,” said Dr. Jay Cogen, Medical Director at the Baptist Medical Group Endocrine Clinic. “Because 40% of new onset patients are over 18 years old, the name has changed. Most people with type 1 diabetes have no family history of the disease.”

The more common form of diabetes is type 2, which is frequently caused by a combination of genetic risk and being relatively overweight and sedentary. While there are exceptions to this, these risk factors can result in resistance to the amount of insulin that is being produced. Previously called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes, the increase in diagnosis in adolescents and ability to treat with insulin resulted in the name change. With this form, there is usually not an immune attack on the insulin producing cells. Dramatic reductions in weight, changes in nutrition, and increased exercise can be an important part of therapy.

“If there is a parent with this disease, there is about a 50% chance of transmission,” said Dr. Cohen. “Also, a person with gestational diabetes has about a 35% chance of developing Type 2 diabetes as an older adult. This can usually be prevented by weight reduction postpartum and exercising at least three times per week.”

There are many common misconceptions when it comes to thinking about diabetes. For example, drinking liquids that contain sugar will not cause diabetes. However, once a person develops the disease, those kinds of beverages are out of bounds. Additionally, anyone of any age, including newborns, can develop diabetes. There is no age limit.

“A supportive family and friends really helps the person with diabetes to have a healthy life,” said Dr. Cohen. “Nobody with diabetes has to develop any complications; however, if not managed appropriately, diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, and other problems.”

If you’re currently struggling with type 1 or type 2 diabetes or are looking to share experiences with other diabetics, consider attending our Diabetes Support Group at NEA Baptist.