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Q: What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body is having trouble producing or using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps (or move sugar into our cell and use as energy) our cells pull sugar from the bloodstream and use it as energy. When there’s a problem with insulin, those sugars accumulate in our blood. Over time, that can cause serious problems with blood circulation, which can lead to organs and tissues to stop working properly if not managed correctly.

There are two main types of diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This condition is often diagnosed early in life, which is why it used to be called “juvenile diabetes.” It’s not known what causes it, but it’s not common. Only about 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes.
The vast majority of diabetics have what’s called Type 2 diabetes. With this condition, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it well. Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes but is now affecting more and more children probably due to the rise in childhood obesity. Type 2 diabetes is also more linked to a person’s lifestyle. Being overweight or not getting enough exercise can increase your risk.

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you may need to take insulin or other medications to manage the condition. Following a diabetes meal plan and exercising safely can help you stay healthy.

Jolly Anne L. Uclaray, MSN RN CDE
Diabetes Coordinator