What Exactly Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
We hear about diabetes all the time, so it’s easy to forget that there are two very different types of the condition. Both involve problems with insulin, but they deviate from there.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where, in general, people have a complete lack of insulin. People with type 2 diabetes are unable to use their own insulin effectively, either because they don’t make enough or because their cells are resistant to the insulin they do make. (These are the silent signs you might have diabetes.)
“Type 1 is largely a genetic condition, but since not all identical twins get diabetes, we do think that exposure to an additional environmental factor may trigger an immune response that ultimately destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas,” says Sarah Rettinger, MD, board-certified endocrinologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “On the other hand, type 2 diabetes has a stronger genetic component, caused by a complicated interaction of genes and environment. A person with a first degree relative with type 2 has a 5 to 10 times higher risk of developing the disease than a person the same age and weight without the same family history.”
According to the 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 29.1 million Americans have the disease. Of these people, one in four of them are undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. The prevalence is twice as high in non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults than non-Hispanic white adults, and higher in individuals aged 65 and older (1 in 4 Continue reading