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Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes which results from autoimmune destruction of certain cells in the pancreas, so the body stops producing the hormoneinsulin. A combination of genetic and environmental factors are believed to trigger the autoimmune disease. Diet and lifestyle however, have nothing to do with causing this type of diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is still capable of producing insulin, but the amount produced is not enough to control sugar levels. 

In both, the body cannot regulate the level of glucose in the blood. This can be because the body cells do not respond properly to the insulin produced, or because the production of insulin decreases. 

Insulin Surf

Type 1 diabetes

  • Usually develops before the age of 20, with a peak at 12 years old.
  • Pancreas stops making insulin.
  • To manage the disease, sufferers will require insulin. In certain circumstances it may be possible to transplant insulin producing cells in the pancreas. NICE have published guidance on the diagnosis and management of Type 1 diabetes.(Overview | Type 1 diabetes in adults: diagnosis and management | Guidance | NICE) 
  • About 10% of diabetes cases.
  • Also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
  • Often diagnosed in childhood and is a serious lifelong condition
  • Not caused by diet or lifestyle

Symptoms: develop quickly. Tiredness, excessive urine production, weight loss, increased thirst and blurred vision.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Usually appears after the age of 40.
  • Pancreas makes reduced amounts of insulin, or the body does not respond normally to the insulin produced.
  • Treatments include diet control, medication and regular exercise.
  • About 90% of cases.
  • Also called non-insulin dependent diabetes

Symptoms: same as for type 1 but less severe and may go undetected for many years.

Type1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. The person's immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. These cells are called the islets of Langerhans. The immune system destroys them as if they were an infection. Insulin production is quickly and dramatically stopped.

People with type 1 diabetes often have a particular form of a gene that is involved in the production of cell-recognition proteins. They trigger the immune system to destroy the insulin-producing cells.

It may soon be possible to develop a genetic test to identify people who are at a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes. Furthermore, where there is evidence of a faulty gene, it may even become possible to replace the faulty gene using gene therapy.

Insulin Injection

Type 2 diabetes

Obesity, and a lack of physical exercise, are linked to an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. It is more likely to develop if people have a diet that contains lots of saturated fats, sugar and is low in fibre. Some insulin production continues but the liver and body cells do not respond to it normally.