Individuals who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or who have a friend or family member with the disease should learn as much about diabetes as possible. One of the first steps comes in understanding the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. A person living with type 1 diabetes has a complete inability to produce insulin throughout the body, whereas those with type 2 diabetes retain insulin production but either make too little or, for various reasons, lack the ability to use the insulin effectively.
Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile onset diabetes, is a much rarer form of the disease, affecting between 5 and 10 percent of diabetes patients. The cells inside a person with type 1 diabetes cannot absorb glucose, a critical source of energy for the body. As its former name implies, type 1 diabetes generally begins early in childhood and is signaled by sudden and severe illness, as well as periods of both high sugar content in the bloodstream and episodes of low blood sugar.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can begin at any time. It had been associated with adult patients for many years, but more recently, younger and younger individuals have received a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Unlike type 1, instances of low blood sugar are extremely rare, though it can be a side effect of certain diabetes medications. Though much more common, type 2 can be prevented or delayed by proper exercise and a healthy diet.