Type l and Type ll Diabetes—What’s the Difference?

Navigating the world of diabetes can be a serious challenge. There are many differences between Type I and Type II diabetes—in fact, one of the biggest things they have in common is that they are both called diabetes. Beyond that, there aren’t too many similarities. There are several other kinds of diabetes as well, but Type I and Type II are the most common ones.

How can you tell the difference between Type I and Type II diabetes?

The two most obvious differences between these two types of diabetes is that Type I is usually diagnosed earlier in life and people with Type I are usually thin. Type II diabetes is usually diagnosed well into adulthood, but not always, and most of the people who have it are overweight. Type I diabetes accounts for about 10 percent of diabetes patients while Type II is much more common at about 90 percent.

What causes Type I?

Type I diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood. People used to call it juvenile diabetes, but because it is being diagnosed more frequently in people well beyond childhood, that name is no longer used. Type I diabetes is often called insulin-dependent.

For some reason the body, specifically the pancreas, stops producing insulin, a hormone in your body that helps you break down sugar (glucose  ̶  which provides energy for your cells). Some doctors believe it may be a viral infection that triggers the problem, but we don’t know for sure. Type I diabetes develops gradually, and most people don’t notice until their insulin levels are very low, that’s when the symptoms show up.

What causes Type II?

With Type II diabetes, the body produces insulin, but it isn’t enough or the patient’s body is unable to use it well. This is insulin resistance. For the most part, diabetes is found in patients older than 35, but we are seeing it more often in younger people and even children as well. Type II diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes, but because we are seeing it in a wider range of ages it is not called that anymore.

When your body is resistant to insulin the glucose in your body builds up in your blood instead of going to your cells, so you feel tired. If left untreated, it can cause damage to your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Taking care of yourself can play a big role in preventing Type II diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and exercising often can make a big difference in your risk for diabetes.

The symptoms of Type I diabetes include:

Dehydration (extreme thirst)

Extreme fatigue, sleepiness or weakness

Stomach pain, nausea and/or vomiting

Increased urination

Changes to your period or it stops altogether

Moodiness or irritability

Blurry vision

Wounds don’t heal well

Rapid heart rate

Low blood pressure

Low body temperature (below 97°F)

Weight loss without changing eating habits

The symptoms of Type II diabetes are:

Any of the symptoms associated with Type I

Tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet

Frequent infections

Blurry vision

What are the treatments?

Treatments for Type I are insulin injections or an insulin pump.

Treatments for Type 2 are medication, diet and exercise.

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