I don’t know if anyone else remembers, and maybe I’m unnecessarily aging myself, the anti-drug commercials that used to air on television. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they came out in the mid-80’s. Basically, the message was showing a raw egg, still in it’s shell and saying “This is your brain…” The, they’d crack the egg and drop it into a hot pan, causing sizzling ands frying of the egg, followed by saying “This is your brain on drugs.” It was an effective means of passing on the message that drug use fries your brain. It worked well for the time and elicited a lot of school yard jokes as well, since memes weren’t a thing back then. Imagine that? We had to get our laughs verbally as opposed to with an electronic device. but I digress…
Some time later, they released another commercial portraying the same scenario, but they started it by saying, “Alright, let’s do this ONE more time…” thereby suggesting that perhaps the message hasn’t gotten through as effectively as it should have the first time. I often feel that this is the case with the information I share. And I don’t necessarily mean with this blog. After all, there’s no expectation on my part that the entire world will read my writing. But when it comes to explaining things about Diabetes, I often feel that I am providing the same information ONE more time.
Generally speaking, non-Diabetics rarely know much about Diabetes beyond the need to take insulin and perhaps that they should avoid sugared goods. Although there’s some truth to that, it isn’t entirely accurate and one of my greatest frustrations is when people throw Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes into the same basket. Although both called Diabetes, they happen to be significantly different conditions with different methods of treatment. This is while acknowledging that there are other types and several sub-types of Diabetes (LADA, Gestational Diabetes, etc…) but for the purposes of today’s rant, I’ll be focusing on Type-1 and Type-2 as they are the more commonly known and consistent types. Let’s do this ONE more time…
Type-1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that usually shows its ugly face during early childhood but can also develop in adults. That’s why the old term for Type-1, “Juvenile Diabetes“ isn’t accurate. At least not anymore. Back in the 80’s when I was diagnosed, if you get Diabetes as an adult, it simply wasn’t believed to be Type-1. I’m rather grateful that medicine has evolved somewhat, even in the past twenty years.
Although there can be a number of factors behind WHY someone may develop Type-1 Diabetes, excess weight gain and eating poorly aren’t the cause. There have been links to a possible genetic component, but we definitely know that becoming overweight DOES NOT CAUSE TYPE-1! Diabetes develops when our body’s own immune system starts attacking and destroying the cells that produce insulin, known as islets. Once enough of these islet cells are destroyed, the body stops producing insulin and the need for the injections to control glucose levels kicks in. Contrary to popular opinion, the human body NEEDS glucose, even Diabetics, since it’s a source of energy. It’s the level of glucose present in the bloodstream that causes the issue.
Type-2 Diabetes is different in the sense that the body doesn’t use glucose and insulin efficiently. The body’s immune system aren’t attacking the islets, but in some cases the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t respond well to the insulin the pancreas DOES produce. this is a condition known as insulin resistance. Now THIS is the type that has been linked to body weight, as being obese or failing to get regular exercise have been linked as contributing factors.
Type-2 Diabetes used to be called “adult-onset Diabetes,” in contrast to Type-1’s “Juvenile Diabetes.” But those are both misnomers now, since children have also been know to develop insulin resistance and Type-2. It can be treated with a variety of oral medications but may also require insulin, depending on the severity of the condition. Weight loss and exercise have also been proven to help in treating it. I’ve also heard of cases where people diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes have eventually progressed to Type-1.
Ultimately, the only aspects that these two conditions have in common are their name, the possible need for insulin injections and the fact that there’s no cure. For either. Although Type-2’s symptoms can be mitigated through proper diet and exercise, it can’t be cured. If you bought one of those books that’s claim that a certain diet or lifestyle change will cure your Diabetes, you’ve been duped.
Hopefully, this provides clarity on the difference in types. I made a big show with the introduction, but a reminder and an explanation of the different types of Diabetes is never a bad thing. There’s always someone new who may read a post, that may not have been around for the previous one. So, it’s all good. The Mayo Clinic’s website is also a fantastic repository of information, if anyone is interested in looking up the different subtypes of Diabetes. ☯️