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Are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed the Same Way?

Female doctor discusses diabetes with young female patient and her mom

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic diseases that can cause serious complications without proper care and treatment. However, there are certain differences between these diseases. Understanding what they are and how they are diagnosed can help ensure that you receive the care you need if you end up having type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system targets and damages cells that normally produce insulin. These cells, which are found in your pancreas, are unable to make the insulin that is needed to move sugar from your bloodstream to your cells. Instead, your blood sugar levels increase. The underlying cause of this disease is not fully understood, but certain factors, such as genetics and environmental factors, are believed to be associated.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your cells resist the effects of insulin. This puts strain on your pancreas, since it can’t produce enough insulin to move sugar to your cells. As with type 1 diabetes, sugar accumulates in your bloodstream, which ends up causing a wide range of health effects and complications. Risk factors for this disease include being overweight, being inactive and having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

How Is Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diagnosing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes involves taking an A1C test, random blood sugar tests, fasting blood sugar tests or oral glucose tolerance tests. However, you can expect to undergo additional testing for type 1 diabetes. This includes having your urine checked for ketones and undergoing tests to check for autoantibodies. These are cells in your immune system that are acting in a destructive manner.

Keep in mind that many cases of type 1 diabetes are typically diagnosed in childhood. This disease generally causes signs and symptoms that occur unexpectedly, resulting in testing at an early age.

How Is Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosed?

When your doctor suspects that you might have type 2 diabetes, such as if you have certain risk factors, you’ll undergo certain tests. The A1C test shows your average blood sugar level over the past few months. Your doctor might also have you take a random blood sugar test to check your blood sugar levels or a fasting blood sugar test. An oral glucose tolerance test might also be done to see how your body handles sugary liquids.

Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually, so signs and symptoms don’t always appear until later on. Screenings can lead to early detection, which helps ensure that you start managing this condition right away.

Treatment Options for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Treating type 1 diabetes usually involves using an insulin pump or doing insulin injections to keep blood sugar levels under control. Those who have this disease also need to check their levels often and count the carbs they eat.

Managing type 2 diabetes involves making lifestyle changes, such as exercising and reducing processed foods and other foods that can make blood sugar levels rise and eating a healthier diet overall. Checking blood sugar levels and taking insulin or medication might also be recommended as part of a treatment plan.

For both types of diabetes, you might also need to have regular A1C tests done. This helps keep track of how your blood sugar levels have been over time.

If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, please contact Shawna Purcell, MD to make an appointment. We offer advanced diabetes care to help you stay as healthy as possible.

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