Diabetes impacts over 34 million adults and 200,000 young adults and children. Though it’s extremely common, diabetes is still a complicated, chronic health condition. And if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, being completely informed is crucial to your ability to manage the disease.
Dr. Michael Skardasis and our team at Optimal Performance Medicine know how overwhelming diabetes can be. Here, we take a closer look at type 1 and type 2 diabetes to help you better understand the differences between them.
What is diabetes?
Simply put, diabetes is a health condition that impacts your body’s ability to turn the food you eat into energy. Here’s how it works.
Your body breaks most of your food down into sugar (you may have heard your doctor call it glucose). The sugar then enters your bloodstream, which triggers your pancreas to release a hormone called insulin, which allows the sugar in your blood to enter into your cells where it can be used as energy.
Diabetes disrupts this process, causing an excess of sugar to accumulate in your blood. Over time, that can lead to serious health problems, including kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, oral health problems, and vision loss.
There are a few different ways diabetes can manifest, and the two most common are known as type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Here’s what you should know about both.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (once referred to as juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes) occurs when your pancreas produces too little or no insulin. Researchers and doctors still don’t exactly know why type 1 diabetes happens, but it most likely stems from a malfunction in your immune system.
Your immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas and prevents them from secreting insulin when necessary. It’s also possible that genetics and exposure to certain viruses cause type 1 diabetes.
Anyone can develop type 1 diabetes, but there are a few groups that are at a heightened risk. For example, type 1 diabetes tends to occur in noticeable peaks for certain age groups — the first in children aged 4-7 and the second in children aged 10-14.
Type 2 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas fails to produce insulin altogether. In type 2, the opposite problem occurs.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t have a problem releasing insulin — your body has a problem using it. This is known as insulin resistance.
There are no exact known causes for type 2 diabetes, but being overweight and inactive are two key contributing factors. Other risk factors include:
- Family history
- Race and ethnicity
- Gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
You also carry an increased risk if your fat distribution settles mainly around your abdomen, rather than your hips and thighs.
Your treatment options
The traditional treatments for either type of diabetes are medication and insulin therapy. While there are some with advanced cases of diabetes who need these interventions, it’s our goal to help you avoid becoming dependent on medications and insulin.
When we begin creating your treatment plan, we take into account your entire medical history. We focus on helping you manage your diabetes by first helping you become a healthier person. Depending on your needs, we offer the following for diabetes management:
- Diet and nutritional counseling
- Exercise guidance
- Weight-loss support
We take a holistic approach to chronic condition care, supporting whole-body and whole-health improvements.
If you’d like more information about diabetes or would like to learn more about our management plans, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our Woodstock, Georgia, office today.