Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. It can occur at any age, but is usually diagnosed from infancy to the late thirties and lasts a lifetime. It was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Without insulin to transport the sugar (glucose or “energy”) into the cells, the sugar remains in your bloodstream, giving you high blood glucose readings. Although the causes are not entirely known, scientists believe the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. People with T1D must inject insulin several times a day or continually infuse insulin through an insulin pump. T1D has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle and is not contagious. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent) is a metabolic disorder and is the most common form of diabetes. Type 2 typically develops after the age of forty, but can appear earlier, and has recently begun to appear more frequently in children. If you have type 2 diabetes your pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not use it effectively. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. Treatment includes diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose and in some cases, oral drugs or insulin.
Source: American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation