Millions of people around the world live with diabetes or know someone who is. The majority have type 2 diabetes – approximately 95 percent of diabetics are type 2. Nevertheless, type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is an equally serious disease that strikes people of all ages, races, sizes, and shapes. Let’s take a closer look at the two types of diabetes, what they are, how they affect people, and how diabetics can live happy, productive lives.
Type 1 diabetes prevents the body from producing insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood glucose (also called blood sugar), which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes:
- Taking insulin
- Carbohydrate, fat and protein counting
- Frequent blood sugar monitoring
- Eating healthy foods
- Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
Type 2 diabetes prevents the body from using insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels.
Type 2 is treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications (pills), and insulin. Some people with type 2 can control their blood glucose with healthy eating and being active. But, your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications or insulin to help you meet your target blood glucose levels. Type 2 usually gets worse over time – even if you don’t need medications at first, you may need them later on.
Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others – it’s more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as seniors.
Living with diabetes
Both types of diabetes can be effectively managed. You will need to work closely with your healthcare team to determine which insulin or insulins are best for you and your body to ensure that you are able to effectively process blood glucose.
Exercise is also a key component of proper diabetes care. Along with all of the other benefits you will receive from being active, your diabetes will also respond in kind with more stable blood glucose levels. We have plenty of information and tips to help get you motivated and keep your exercise routines fresh.
Nutrition is one of the most important pieces of the diabetes puzzle. Learning how different foods affect your blood glucose and how to manage that within your daily routine will be key.
Emotional support, while not often initially considered, plays a key role in diabetes care. Connecting with other people living with diabetes who understand the daily grind of counting carbohydrates, testing blood glucose multiple times each day and dealing with the various highs and lows (both physical and emotional) of life with diabetes can make all the difference.
Living with diabetes can be a challenge, but balancing nutrition, exercise and proper blood glucose management techniques with the rest of your life’s priorities can make just about anything possible. We’re here to help you and your loved ones live more easily with diabetes.