The difference between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes

Did you know that approximately 29% of Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes? Approximately 10% of diabetics have Type 1 diabetes, and approximately 90% have Type 2 diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which your body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. If blood sugar remains too high in the body, it may lead to serious conditions such as blindness, nerve damage, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Diabetes can be broken down into 3 categories: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and Gestational diabetes. Here, we will focus on Type 1 diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (Insulin-dependent diabetes):
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where people are unable to produce insulin due to their body attacking their pancreas, and is more commonly developed in childhood or adolescence.
  • Risk factors
    • Non-modifiable (risk factors we cannot change)
      • Family history
      • Genetics
      • Age (5-14 years old)
    • Currently, no modifiable (risk factors we can change) have been identified
  • Treatment relies on insulin
    • Speak to your pharmacist today about how we can help you optimize your insulin regimen!
Type 2 diabetes:
In Type 2 diabetes, people are unable to either properly use the insulin by their bodies, or their bodies are not able to produce enough insulin. This condition most commonly develops in adulthood.
  • Risk factors:
    • Non-modifiable (risk factors we cannot change)
      • 40 years or older
      • Family history (parent, or sibling)
      • Ethnic background: African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian
    • Modifiable (risk factors we can change)
      • High cholesterol
      • High blood pressure (target: <130/80mmHg)
      • High body weight
      • Excessive calorie intake
      • Inactivity
    • Treatment: may be managed through diet and exercise alone, but may also require medications or insulin therapy
      • Speak to your pharmacist today about how we can help you optimize your medications!
Similarities between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes:
Although these conditions are very different, lifestyle management is very important. Targets for blood sugar control:
  • Fasting blood glucos e: blood sugar which is tested before eating breakfast
      • Range: 4-7mmol/L
  • Post-prandial blood glucose: blood sugar which is tested 2 hours after eating either breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.
    • Range: 5-10mmol/L
  • A1c: this looks at our long-term sugar control over the last 3 months
    • Range: <7%
If you notice that your blood sugar levels are not within these targets, please come speak to your pharmacist to help optimize your medications! Lifestyle management is very important in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking cessation – speak to your pharmacist to see how we can help!
  • Healthy eating and food choices
  • Regular exercise – even going for a 15-minute walk helps!
If you are feeling overwhelmed with making multiple major lifestyle changes at once, it is completely normal! It is important to take baby steps when making these changes. Remember, your pharmacist and healthcare team are always here to support you!
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