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The difference between type 1 Diabetes and type 2 Diabetes

According to Statssa, after TB (tuberculosis), diabetes is the second highest cause of natural deaths in South  Africa. Of concern is a report published in Biomedcentral which projected that of the 4.58 million South Africans  with diabetes, 52.4% were undiagnosed.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes explained.  

The Cleveland Clinic describes Type 1 diabetes as a chronic (life-long) autoimmune disease that prevents your  pancreas from making insulin. It requires daily management with insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring.  Both children and adults can be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The Mayo Clinic lists complications such as  heart disease and problems with blood vessels, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, nerve damage or  poor blood flow to the feet, skin and mouth conditions and risks to a pregnant mother and child.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells cannot properly take up sugar (glucose) from the foods that you  eat. If left untreated, Type 2 diabetes can cause health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease and  stroke. You can manage this disease by making lifestyle changes, taking medications and/or insulin and seeing  your provider for regular check-ups.

Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age (as young as 4-years-old) but unlike Type 2 diabetes, the onset of  symptoms can appear suddenly. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs from the age of 45 although Lancet notes that  there is a significant increase in diabetes amongst adolescents and young adults due to obesity, family history  and sedentary lifestyle.


The symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar but there are some differences.

Common symptoms described by the Mayo Clinic include thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger,  unintended weight loss, irritability and mood changes, fatigue and blurred vision.

Type 2 diabetes has additional symptoms such as slow healing sores, frequent infections, numbness or tingling  of hands or feet and darkened areas of the skin (neck, armpits).


Once diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, you will need to keep an eye on your blood sugar levels (your doctor will  advise you what range your sugar levels need to stay within). You will also need insulin injections to control your  blood sugar level, along with changes to your eating habits and activity.

If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, your doctor will advise you how to achieve the desired blood sugar  levels by changing your diet and through exercise. You may also be required to take medication.

With diabetes being so prevalent in South Africa, our pharmacists have, through screening, dispensing  prescribed medication and advising customers on lifestyle changes, treated countless diabetic patients. We do  urge our customers to get tested, a quick and easy screening.

Visit this link to find out more about Type 2 diabetes.



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