Q. I always hear about Type 2 diabetes, but I don’t know what that means compared to any other type of diabetes. How many types of diabetes are there and what is the difference?
There are only two types of diabetes. The reason you tend to hear about Type 2 diabetes more often is because it is the type that people usually develop as adults, sometimes due to being overweight and/or other lifestyle factors. (Though obviously not every Type 2 diabetic fits that description.) It is the more commonly discussed type because more people have Type 2 than Type 1, and Type 2 can often be prevented with the right combination of diet and exercise. (Type 1 can not be prevented by lifestyle choices.)
While the way in which you get Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may differ, the effect is essentially the same — an inability to produce adequate insulin that then can lead to a variety of other health problems.
In short, the two types of diabetes are:
- Type 1 Diabetes – Only 5%-10% of diabetics are Type 1! This is the type of diabetes that is sometimes called Juvenile Diabetes because it is usually diagnosed in children or young adults. In this type of diabetes, insulin is not produced by the body at all because the immune system has destroyed the cells that release insulin. While diet and exercise are important in controlling Type 1 Diabetes, they are not known to cause it. There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
- Type 2 Diabetes – 90% or more diabetics have Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 is usually diagnosed later in life than Type 2 (but not always). While not every person with Type 2 Diabetes can trace the disease to poor diet or weight issues, it is known that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle often prevents or at least delays the onset of diabetes. While there is no “cure” for Type 2 Diabetes, some doctors believe the disease can be reversed or at least controlled well with the right combination of diet and exercise.