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Blog: Type 1 Vs. Type 2 Diabetes

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Although most people with diabetes have Type 2, most of the kids I treat have Type 1. 

And this week, after spending the majority of my time explaining why carbohydrates are not evil and how they didn’t cause the Type 1 diabetes in the first place, I was reminded of how little information about Type 1 diabetes is out there for families.  

Other than sharing the same name and resulting in high blood sugar levels, comparing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes would be like comparing a raspberry to a grapefruit—they are both fruits, and that’s about it.  

Type 1 diabetes happens after your body develops insulin-destroying antibodies. A resistance to insulin does not cause the disease. It can’t be treated by diet and exercise changes. The blood sugars can only be regulated by insulin.  

People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin before eating any carbohydrates, which may seem archaic, as insulin was discovered in 1921. However, we do have more rapidly-acting insulin analogs and pumps that make administration easier. Admittedly, some people with Type 2 do need insulin, but people with Type 1 always need insulin… Every day. With every meal. All the time. 

Newer insulins means there are fewer food restrictions for those with Type 1 diabetes. You can, for the most part, eat whatever you want, whenever you want, so long as you match the insulin for the carbohydrates. This, however, reminds me of how frequently we, as Americans, snack throughout the day. No one should eat a donut and a pastry every morning for breakfast. No one should have a snack every hour either—not because you have diabetes (either type), but because it’s not healthy. 

Dr. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, writes blogs about various medical-related issues among children for soundmedicine.org. 

M. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, is a Pediatric Endocrinologist at the McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center and Endocrine Clinic at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She has been working in Pediatric Endocrinology for 17 years. Endocrinology is the study of hormones—or the chemical text messages that are sent throughout your body. She is an unapologetic science nerd, and is passionate about pediatric obesity, growth disorders, endocrine consequences of cancer survival and endocrine disruptors. She is active in research; however, spends the majority of her time in clinic. She sees Sound Medicine as an opportunity to share her clinical experience with people who are not her patients.