Diabetes – Type I vs. Type II

Diabetes Mellitus, more popular among masses as simply Diabetes, is the most common serious metabolic disease in the world; it affects hundreds of millions. The incidence of Diabetes Mellitus is about 5% of the population and is characterized by grossly abnormal fuel usage – glucose is overproduced by the liver and under-utilized by other organs.  However, few are aware that depending on the cause of occurrence, Diabetes Mellitus is categorised into Type I and Type II Diabetes.  Let us take a closer look at the two types and compare them so that we understand the importance of the differences when it comes to undertaking their proper treatment.

Type 1 Diabetes

In Type I or Juvenile Diabetes, a misfired auto-immune response destroys the beta cells of the pancreas – the insulin producers.  Our auto-immunity might go wrong due to mutations in certain genes, IDDM1 being the most notable one. DeLisa Fairweather & Noel R. Rose claimed that attack of Coxsackie virus family or Rubella can coax the auto-immune response to kill the beta cells while studies have revealed the adverse effects of certain chemicals and drugs on these insulin producing cells.  If you are running to the bathroom often to urinate, feeling thirsty and hungry frequently despite plenty of food and water that you consume, yet feeling worn out and losing weight alarmingly; Type I Diabetes might be sneaking into your body.  Apart from these symptoms, laboured breathing, black outs, sugar in urine, impaired vision, ketosis and fluctuating blood sugar levels also start tormenting your body.

Don’t leave your diabetes untreated as it might turn fatal.  Administering insulin from outside via insulin pumps or inhalation is one of the most common and effective way to tackle Juvenile Diabetes.  When this method fails, pancreatic transplants or recently introduced pancreatic islet cell transplantation remain the only option open. You will be disappointed to know that we can hardly prevent Type I Diabetes. However, few immune-suppressive drugs can stop the annihilation of beta cells but their long term use might turn out to be toxic.  Breastfeeding or regular dosage of vitamin D to 1 year old children has been found to lower the risk of this diabetes to some extent.

About 90% of diabetics, in contrast, have a normal or even higher level of insulin in their blood, but they are quite unresponsive to the hormone. Hence, the patients remain in biochemical starvation mode despite a high concentration of blood glucose since this lack of response restricts its entry into cells and as a consequence, our body starts to mal-function in a big way. This form of the disease known as Type II, or non-insulin-dependent or adult onset diabetes mellitus, typically arises later in life than does the insulin dependent form. It is hard to tell between the two types of diabetes since the symptoms are identical.  However, the elevated blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels of eyes, the heart, and the kidney; hardens the arteries and make the patients prone to cardiac arrest and strokes. Frequent urination can dehydrate our body to such extremity that it might give rise to life threatening situations.  

Unlike Type I Diabetes, improper lifestyles should be blamed for Type II Diabetes.  Inappropriate diet, lack of consistent exercise and mounting stress in our daily life is a prime cause for diabetes in adults. Previous family history, high cholesterol and triglycerides, hyperthyroidism, gestational diabetes in women add up to worsen the conditions.  But the good news is that Type II Diabetes is preventable, in contrast to its Type I counterpart.

Adapt your palate to a diet high in nutrients, stay away from sugary foods, practice regular exercise to lose or maintain weight– these subtle changes in your everyday life will propel Type II Diabetes away and keep you hearty and healthy for a lifetime.   Monitoring the level of blood glucose and seeking treatment at the right moment is the key to keep diabetes in control and maintain a healthy standard of living.  Understand your body and the problems that it can face and take the necessary measures to keep this disease away.  Liya Das (TCC)

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