Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2

Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2

When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:

  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
  • Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.

There are different types of diabetes-- type 1 and type 2 as well as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, and steroid induced diabetes. For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on type 1 and 2. 

Regardless of whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the risk of long term complications like nerve damage, kidney damage, heart damage, and blindness resulting from untreated high blood sugars are the same. The good news is that with the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of serious complications. 

Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

Type 2 is diagnosed in adults and children. In type 2 diabetes, your body does not use the insulin it produces properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time your pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 is treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications (pills), and insulin.  Some people with type 2 can control their blood glucose with healthy eating and being active. But your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications or insulin to help you meet your target blood glucose levels. Type 2 usually progresses over time – even if you don’t need medications at first, you may need them later on.

As the doctor enters the room with your labs in hand, he shares the news that your blood sugar is high and that you have diabetes. Diabetes?  How is that even possible? I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I thought people with diabetes are older, eat poorly, never exercise and are very overweight. I am 25 years old and have been an athlete my whole life.  My diet could be better but I eat fairly healthy.

Once I was able to “digest” this diagnosis, I wanted to learn more.