Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that results in the body not producing any insulin at all. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile onset diabetes”. Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited and unlike type 2 diabetes, its onset is unrelated to lifestyle. About 10-15% of all cases of diabetes are type 1.
People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin injections every day to stay alive and they must test their blood glucose levels several times daily. Without insulin, people with type 1 diabetes accumulate dangerous chemical substances in their blood from the burning of fat. This can cause a potentially life threatening condition known as ketoacidosis.
If a person with type 1 diabetes skips a meal, exercises heavily or takes too much insulin, their blood sugar levels can fall too low. This can lead to hypoglycaemia. The symptoms include tremor, sweating, dizziness, hunger, headache and change in mood. This can be remedied with a quick boost of sugar and a person with type 1 diabetes should have lollies on hand at all times, just in case.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, which may be combined with relatively reduced insulin secretion. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes described as a ‘lifestyle disease’ because it is more common in people who don’t do enough physical activity, and who are overweight or obese. This form was previously referred to as “non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. These names are no longer used because type 2 diabetes does occur in younger people, and some people with type 2 diabetes require insulin therapy.
Type 2 diabetes is usually controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and oral medications. However, more than half of all people with type 2 diabetes require insulin to control their blood sugar levels at some point in the course of their illness.