A lot of people still misunderstand the main differences between type 1 and 2 diabetes. And although they do have many similarities, both are still very different in terms of symptoms, causes, and treatments.

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With many people in the UAE suffering from both types, it’s important to have an understanding of both its risk factors, symptoms, and treatments. With that being said, in this article, we will break down the main differences between the two diseases and how both should be approached and treated. 

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system will attack and destroy the cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced. Until now, research into the exact reason why the immune system will do this is unclear.

Around 10% of all people with diabetes worldwide suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is most likely to occur in children and teenagers. It is also most likely to be inherited in genes. If there is a family history of type 1 diabetes, there is an increased likeliness the disease will occur. 

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body grows a resistance to insulin and sugar starts to build up in your blood and reach alarming levels. This is the most common type of diabetes and is also the most preventable.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, this type is often developed due to poor lifestyle choices in terms of diet and exercise. Other risk factors that may increase the likeliness of the disease occurring include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Are above the age of 45 or older
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Have prediabetes
  • Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes

The other types of diabetes include prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not at the level where it can be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

This is often diagnosed before type 2 diabetes occurs. Gestational diabetes is when high blood sugar occurs during pregnancy. This occurs when the placenta produces hormones that block insulin. 

Symptoms

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Although there are similarities between the two types of diabetes in terms of symptoms, there are also particular differences that you can notice. The symptoms of diabetes may include below.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

  • A drastic increase in thirst
  • A drastic increase in hunger
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Feeling weak, tired, or fatigued
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Sudden mood swings

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

  • A drastic increase in thirst
  • A drastic increase in hunger
  • Sores that heal very slowly
  • Feeling weak, tired, or fatigued
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent need to urinate

It is also worth noting that symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can often be mistaken for misinterpreted. This is why it’s important to have general checkups with your doctor if you notice anything irregular in your health.

Complications of Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

In both types of diabetes, the high levels of sugar running in the blood will damage organs and tissue cells throughout the body. So the higher the blood sugar levels, the more severe complications are and the higher the risk of fatality becomes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can pose the following complications:

  • Heart diseases, stroke, and heart attack
  • Neuropathy
  • Nephropathy
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Skin conditions including bacterial and fungal infections 
  • Mental health disorders including depression
  • Dementia
  • Foot damage and sores that will not heal

Treatment and Prevention

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes does not have a cure at this stage and is a lifelong disease. Its complications and symptoms can, however, be controlled, and quality of life can be maintained through proper care and a better general lifestyle. People with type 1 diabetes often need medication and medical treatments in order to maintain blood sugar levels and keep them at safe levels.

Insulin injections are the main form of treatment, and your doctor will prescribe them to you as well as how rapid the insulin works based on your personal condition. As of this day, there are no preventable actions you can take for type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet with fresh whole foods and consistent physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. Staying away from sugar will also help to prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring.

Staying away from sugar will also help to manage type 2 diabetes and keep blood sugar levels at a sustainable level. Your doctor will also likely prescribe you with insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes is reversible through proper maintenance and treatment. It is worth noting that it can reoccur in the future if you aren’t careful with managing its risk factors and causes.

When to See a Doctor?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

If you belong to any of the risk factors, notice any of the symptoms as well as any irregularities in your health, you should speak with your doctor at first notice.

As symptoms are often undetected and prediabetes occurs, its important to get regular checkups with your general practitioner every year. Early detection for type 1 and type 2 diabetes will benefit you greatly.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.