Question: What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?
Answer: There are several types of diabetes; I'm going to discuss the two main types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 formerly called juvenile onset diabetes occurs typically before the age of 20. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are usually thin, and the cause of type 1 diabetes is that the pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin, is destroyed by autoantibodies, that's why people with type 1 diabetes always need insulin, either injected or through an insulin pump. Type 1 diabetes occurs in about 10-15 percent of all the diabetics in the country.
Now, the most common type of diabetes is what we call type 2, formerly called adult onset. Type 2 diabetics are usually heavy, usually diagnosed after the age of 35. Now, the cause of type 2 diabetes is quite different from type 1. The cause of type 2 diabete is primarily a complicated medical condition called 'insulin resistance.' In fact, in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, there's plenty of insulin around, it just doesn't work well. To treat type 2 diabetes, we typically use lifestyle, and that may work alone -- just diet and exercise -- then we may need oral medications, and it is not uncommon for someone with type 2 diabetes to eventually need insulin, either with or without the oral medications.
Now, type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 85 to 90 percent of all the diabetics in the country. The other important thing that needs to be said is that type 2 diabetes is associated with heart disease, and that's why it's so important to not only treat the glucose levels, but also to attack blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well. We know that type 2 diabetes runs very strongly from generation to generation, and we also know that we can prevent type 2 diabetes if we recognize it at an early stage.
The last important thing to mention about type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that you can get any type of diabetes at any age. That's very important and that's why the American Diabetes Association changed the name from 'juvenile onset' to 'type 1,' and 'adult onset' to 'type 2.'