Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes result in abnormal blood sugar levels. However, they are caused by very different problems. Both problems relate to how well your body processes glucose (sugar).
In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed. In most people, this is caused by the body's immune system. The pancreas then cannot make any insulin.
Insulin is needed to help glucose move from the bloodstream into cells. If you have type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin shots. These shots enable your body to use sugar for energy. They also help to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. Type 1 diabetes used to be called insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is not caused by a problem with the immune system. The beta cells in the pancreas still can produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, normal amounts of insulin are not adequate to move glucose into your cells. That's because your muscles, liver and other tissues do not respond sensitively to insulin. This condition is known as insulin resistance.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas produces extra insulin to compensate. In your first years of having type 2 diabetes, you usually can be treated with pills. Some drugs make you less resistant to insulin. Others help your pancreas to produce more insulin. Type 2 diabetes formerly was known as non-insulin dependent diabetes.
Eventually, however, your pancreas is not able to keep up with your need for extra insulin. At some point, about 1 out of 3 people with type 2 diabetes requires insulin shots.
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