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Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are quite different in many ways, and you may hear type 1 diabetes referred to as “bad” diabetes because it requires insulin daily. But people with type 1 diabetes likely have better “tools” to monitor and control blood glucose (including insulin). And, type 1 diabetes is impossible to simply ignore. So which is the worst type of diabetes? See what Toby has to say about this subject.
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Type 1 or Type 2 – Which is Worse?
I get this question asked a lot. Sometimes from people with diabetes but also from family or friends of people who have diabetes. Which is the worst type of diabetes? Type 1 or type 2?
Let’s Review The Differences
Type 1 Diabetes
Let’s first review the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In a previous video that was titled “Can You Get Diabetes From Eating Too Much Sugar?”, I explained that Type 1 diabetes happens when the body cannot produce insulin and the “cause” is unknown. We do know that our own immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing cells, but the cause of why this happens is unknown. We also know that insulin is required to keep blood sugar in a normal range so since those of us who have type 1 diabetes do not make insulin, we must take insulin injections daily. This is part of the management of type 1 diabetes.
Be Sure to Check Out – Can I Get Diabetes From Too Much Sugar?
Type 2 Diabetes
With Type 2 diabetes, insulin isn’t working effectively to lower blood sugar levels even though enough is being produced. This is called insulin resistance. There are many factors that may put us at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, like ethnicity and excess body weight, and eventually, it’s likely that natural insulin production will fall off or stop.
So, which type of diabetes can be labeled “worst”? at the moment, I say neither. Often, people comment that type 1 is the “bad” diabetes or the “worst” diabetes because we take insulin. And we are more subject to urgent dangers from very low or very high blood sugar levels. But it’s really important to know what is going on in our bodies. When I think of the real dangers of diabetes, I think about heart, kidney, circulation, nerve, and eye complications that may occur from unmanaged diabetes over time
Explanation For Why Type 1 is Not The Worst
When type 1 diabetes is diagnosed, it is typically diagnosed very quickly and at a relatively young age. That can be an advantage. Once we know we have been diagnosed with diabetes, we can use the core behaviors (healthy eating, being physically active, monitoring blood sugar, taking medications as prescribed, managing stress, and learning coping skills) and usually some very effective tools like continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps to consistently manage our blood sugar levels so we aren’t placed at high risk for developing those long-term diabetes-related complications I worry about.
Explanation For Why Type 2 is Not The Worst
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, understand that often the diagnosis doesn’t happen until ten years later. The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be confused or shrugged off as “yes, I know I’m thirsty and going to the bathroom a lot, but, oh that’s aging. Or “this is how I “always” feel, so it’s not diabetes that I’m experiencing. The downside to not being diagnosed right away is that some of the diabetes complications can be starting to set in. If you don’t know you have diabetes, most likely you aren’t following those core behaviors to manage blood sugar. And, people with type 2 diabetes often don’t “qualify” for those amazing tools for managing blood glucose. Finally, you may have the mistaken idea that type 2 diabetes isn’t really all that serious….that would be wrong.
Be Sure to Check Out – Diabetes Lifestyle Importance Known, Not Practiced
So, what’s the verdict? The early onset of type 1 diabetes leaves a lot of years for unmanaged diabetes to do damage….I’m approaching 54 years. But type 1 diabetes is impossible to ignore, and we now have incredible tools to make management easier. Type 2 diabetes usually comes later in life, but it’s easy to ignore and complications often have a head start on diagnosis and treatment.
The real lesson here is that “better or worse” depends on whether you or I are willing to take diabetes seriously and be consistent with our diabetes management. Start today, not tomorrow. You owe it to yourself. This is a self-managed condition and I have a lot of videos to try and make living with diabetes easier.
Don’t forget to take a look at our most frequently asked questions.
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