Many of my patients have misconceptions about type 1 versus type 2 diabetes. I often hear comments such as, “my type 2 diabetes turned into type 1 diabetes” or “thin people get diagnosed with type 1 and overweight people get diagnosed with type 2” or “only children develop type 1.” These myths are perpetuated by a number of factors:
- Misdiagnosis of type 1 in adults. Patients may be initially diagnosed as type 2 and it may not be until a few months or years later that antibody tests are run to confirm type 1 or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). Up to a third of people diagnosed with Type 2 as an adult actually have LADA, and will eventually go on to have beta-cell destruction and need insulin
- Media and health news linking obesity and type 2 risk. While this is the majority of cases of type 2 diabetes, it’s not impossible for a normal weight individual to have type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes, and this verbiage still exists even though it’s not as common to hear anymore.
- There are 6 different types of diabetes
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) – considered a sub-type of Type 1
- Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY)
- Gestational Diabetes
- Neonatal Diabetes
Part of the misconception comes from people not understanding the differences between type 1 and type 2. You can use this table to decipher the differences between these two conditions.
|Type 1||Type 2|
|Age||Diagnosis can occur at any age (but more commonly before the age of 30)||Diagnosis typically occurs in adults, but in countries with obesity epidemics we are seeing younger and younger diagnoses occur (teenagers and even younger)|
|Diagnosis||Typically will be able to be differentiated from Type 2 by a positive antibody test||Not an autoimmune condition so antibodies are negative|
|Type of condition||An auto-immune condition that involves the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells||Typically this condition is slow to develop. It begins with insulin resistance and in many can eventually reduce insulin production over time|
|Insulin||Requires exogenous (external) insulin to be taken||May or may not require exogenous (external) insulin to be taken. If insulin is needed it will usually develop after someone has had diabetes for many years or as a result of having poorly controlled diabetes|
|Urgent issues||Could develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) if there is an insulin deficiency – i.e., a person not taking enough insulin, which could occur from a number of reasons||Rarely is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) seen|
|Long-term complications||Retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, and depression||Retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular disease, and depression|