Q: What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
There are several types of diabetes, but the most common are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is genetic. It’s not linked to a person’s diet or lifestyle. Most people develop type 1 diabetes in childhood, but it can be diagnosed at any age. Having family members with type 1 diabetes can increase your risk.
With type 1 diabetes, your body stops producing insulin, the hormone that helps you convert sugar into energy. This can cause the sugars to accumulate in your blood, causing serious complications.
Type 1 diabetes can only be controlled with insulin injections and by carefully managing your diet, ensuring that you have a consistent amount of carbohydrates in your diet.
With type 2 diabetes, your body makes less insulin, and your body also becomes resistant to insulin. That means the insulin your body makes becomes ineffective in absorbing the sugar in your blood, causing blood sugar levels to rise.
In addition to genetics, a person’s diet and lifestyle play a role in causing type 2 diabetes. Being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise can increase risk. And while people can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, it’s more commonly diagnosed later in life.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes including eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and losing weight, as well as monitoring your blood sugar levels, and taking medication.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious conditions and need to be managed. Talk with your doctor about screening, and work with your diabetes care team to come up with a management plan that’s right for you.
While diabetes is not always easy or convenient to manage, educating yourself on your body’s specific needs can help. Maui Health’s monthly Diabetes Support Group will virtually relaunch on January 25th, 2022, and offers teaching topics as well as peer support for the community. You can RSVP for this and other virtual support groups at mauihealth.org/events. To stay in the know about upcoming support groups and other health and wellness offerings at Maui Health, sign up for our e-newsletter by texting MAUIHEALTH to 22828 or visiting mauihealth.org/newsletter.