what is diabetes?

Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Gretchen Becker Health Guide July 06, 2010
  • I recently returned from the Roche Media Summit held in Orlando, Florida. David Mendosa has described the meeting in a recent sharepost.

     

    What was most fascinating to me (in addition to learning that fellow Health Central blogger Ginger Vieira also lives in Vermont) was that the type 2s were in a minority: only 4 of 36 were type 2.

     

    This is the converse of the usual situation; more than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2, and type 2s also dominate the e-mail lists that I am on.

     

    Hence it was a good learning experience to be surrounded by fellow patients who have type 1.

     

    One thing that impressed me was that they looked so very young! Of course it's possible that this is because they're so very young. Unlike type 2, type 1 is usually, but not always, diagnosed in childhood or during the teen years. And I realized these people are having to deal with all the hassles of diabetes for a long, long time.

     

    I was diagnosed at 56. So I'd had 56 years of eating "regular" food and not worrying about it. Of course, eating regular food and not worrying about it was what made me gain a lot of weight. Still, I'd had more than a half a lifetime without having to worry about the carb content of what I ate. I'm grateful for that. Some people with type 1 are diagnosed at such a young age that they can't remember ever not having diabetes.

     

    The other thing I noticed was how the people with type 1 were constantly concerned about going low. I use Levemir, and I've sometimes used Novolog and R insulin. But I'm also on a low-carb diet, so even though I have insulin resistance, I never injected more than 4 units at a single meal, usually less, and I only went low from insulin when I was using Lantus and got a "Lantus low." So going low is not usually high on my radar screen.

     

    It appeared that most of the type 1's at the summit were not on low-carb diets. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, eating small amounts of carbohydrate means you need less insulin, and as Dr Richard K. Bernstein says, small doses mean small mistakes if you slightly miscalculate or if you calculate properly but your meter is not accurate enough. Less glucose fluctuation most likely means fewer complications down the road.

     

    On the other hand, if I were 13, I'm not sure I'd have the gumption not to eat what my friends were eating. I've had a lifetime of eating all those carbs, I can remember what they tasted like, and I now realize most of them really aren't that good. When you're diagnosed as a child, you haven't had the experience of eating those things, and it is probably more difficult to give them up.

     

    But what was the most encouraging thing about this get-together was the realization that regardless of type, we're all in this together, and we all desperately want to do whatever we can to conquer this disease. We can discuss which type of diabetes is worse to have, but that's a colossal waste of effort. It's like debating whether you'd rather be blind or deaf. Obviously you'd rather be neither.

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    So too, all of use want to see a day when there's no type 2 , no type 1 , no LADA, and no MODY diabetes.  And we want to see that day coming soon!