If you are somebody who is touched by Type 1 Diabetes you will know how often people who are not, ask:
How come he / she has got Diabetes at such a young age?
Will she / he always have Diabetes? Wouldn't he/ she outgrow it?
Questions like that clearly show that the majority of people still do not understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. To be honest, I did not either, before Mr T's diagnosis.
When you break a leg you can not use it for a while, you can not lean on it, you can not walk normally. The doctors put it in a cast and after a period of resting you can start using it again. You might limp, or may not run as well as before but you learn what to avoid so as not to agrivate it, yet you will be able to keep on using it.
That is TYPE 2 diabetes: Often caused by poor lifestyle choices, often linked to excess weight or just strong genetics, the pancreas "breaks“ , or better said, gets drained and the insulin it produces is not as effective as before. So if you give it a rest (doctors prescribe tablets or in some cases insulin, temporarily) and follow a good eating plan combined with some excersising, the pancreas recovers to an extent. You still make some insulin and you can continue to use it. Sticking to a good eating and excersising regime allows optimal usage of the insulin one produces, therefore some patients can stop needing insulin and/ or tablets. They do however need to be careful what and when they eat in order to maintain good blood glucose control.
On the other hand, if your leg gets cut off, for what ever reason – it can not grow back, can it ? No matter what you do that will not change, ever. You can use a prosthesis or artificial leg and you can walk and even run with it, but it will never be like the real one.
Now, that is what TYPE 1 is: The part of the pancreas that secretes insulin, cells / islets of Langerhans, are dead. Killed through an auto-immune process that could not have been prevented. There is NO production of insulin and that will NEVER change. One can not grow the islets of Langerhans back, one can not grow the leg that was cut off back. Ever.
So Type 1 diabetic patients have to inject or pump insulin till a cure is found. They can not live without insulin. At least not for very long. However with insulin a good eating plan and excersising habits, a person with Type 1 can live a full normal life just like any other person. With good blood glucose management many of the complications associated with long term diabetes patients can be avoided.
Thank you Jelena for your down to earth explanation of Type 1 vs Type 2.
For the ones who are still a bit confused, here it is from the doctors mouth (2 minutes only).