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Understanding the Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, Home Care Assistance in Annapolis is using this blog to explain the basics of type 1 and type 2. Diabetes causes an increased level of blood sugar in the body and currently affects more than 25 million Americans. A small minority of diabetics have type I, or juvenile, diabetes, while the majority of diabetics have contracted type II diabetes later in life. 

In both cases, diabetes is present due to the manner in which the body manufactures and treats insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to convert carbohydrates to sugar and serves the dual purpose of also regulating the blood sugar level in the body. In both types of diabetes, the diagnosis is made through a blood test, measuring the amount of glucose in the blood.

Causes of Diabetes

Type I – In type I, the body cannot manufacture insulin through the pancreas. Because it cannot create insulin, it must be supplied through artificial means. This is why juvenile diabetics must frequently take shots to supply their bodies with insulin. Onset usually occurs in early childhood or early teens, which is why type 1 has also been termed juvenile diabetes.

Type II – With type II diabetics, the body can produce insulin, but the body’s immune system will not allow the body to use insulin efficiently. Eventually, the body will stop making insulin. Type II diabetes is a progressive disease and is often not diagnosed until after the age of 40. However, many children are now being diagnosed with type II diabetes, possibly due to the obesity epidemic.


Type I – Supplying the body with insulin is a necessity for type I diabetics. Continuous blood monitoring is also essential. Blood testing with a glucometer is normally performed several times per day. Failing to supply the body with insulin can lead to shock, coma, and in some cases death. Monitoring food intake is also essential. Sugars must be avoided, as should alcohol.

Type II – At the beginning stages of type II, insulin is usually not necessary. A strict diet without sugars is necessary, as with type I diabetics. A regular regimen of exercise is recommended as well to keep the body’s immune system active and maintain a healthy weight. Some type II diabetics are provided medications to assist the body in producing insulin.


With each type of diabetes, complications can occur, including blindness, a decrease in the efficiency of the circulatory system, and kidney damage. Diabetics are at an increased rate of heart disease and stroke as well. Treatment for each type works to to delay complications rather than eliminate them 

The better the person watches their diet, monitors their blood levels faithfully and exercises regularly, the better their chance to delay the onset of complications. 

Managing diabetes can be more challenging with age. If your loved one could benefit from medication reminders, assistance to and from doctor’s appointments, or needs help grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our part-time elder care in Annapolis is ideal for seniors who need minimal help throughout the week and can ensure your loved one has the support needed to stay on top of his or her health. Call us today at 443-302-2771 for more information.