Understanding the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

DIAGNOSING DIABETES 
There are several ways to diagnose diabetes. Each way usually needs to be repeated on a second day to diagnose diabetes.

Testing should be carried out in a health care setting (such as your doctor's office or a lab). If your doctor determines that your blood glucose level is very high, or if you have classic symptoms of high blood glucose in addition to one positive test, your doctor may not require a second test to diagnose diabetes.

There is no way to predict your chances of getting type 1 diabetes, but you can familiarize yourself with its symptoms.

TYPE 1 DIABETES
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, 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.

TYPE 2 DIABETES
Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your 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 your blood glucose at normal levels.

PREDIABETES
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "prediabetes" — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Doctors sometimes refer to prediabetes as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on what test was used when it was detected. This condition puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

NO CLEAR SYMPTOMS
There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so, you may have it and not know it. Some people with prediabetes may have some of the symptoms of diabetes or even problems from diabetes already. You usually find out that you have prediabetes when being tested for diabetes.

If you have prediabetes, you should be checked for type 2 diabetes every one to two years.

LOWER YOUR RISK
Research shows that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58% by:

  • Losing 7% of your body weight (or 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds)
  • Exercising moderately (such as brisk walking) 30 minutes a day, five days a week

Information on this page was provided by the American Diabetes Association.