What’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be treated and managed. Your doctor will tell you which one you have, but here’s a little bit more information about the two types:
Type 2: This is the most common type, notes the American Diabetes Association.2 With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it well, explains the American Diabetes Association.3 This is a problem because your body’s cells can’t use glucose (blood sugar) for the energy it needs, reports Mayo Clinic.4 If glucose stays in your blood, notes Mayo Clinic5, it can cause bodily harm. A heart-healthy diet, active lifestyle and medicine (sometimes) are how to balance your blood sugar levels, cites Mayo Clinic.6
Type 1: Many people assume this is a childhood disease, but even people in their seventies or eighties can develop type 1, says Columbia University Irving Medical Center.7 A type 1 diagnosis means your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, states the American Diabetes Association.8 You’ll need to monitor your blood sugar levels and administer multiple daily insulin injections to help manage the disease, cites the American Diabetes Association.9
4 strategies to help you cope with diabetes distress
Now that you know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, we’ve got another term for you to keep in mind: “diabetes distress.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention10 says this phrase could apply to you if all the worry, frustration and anger about your diagnosis takes you to the point where you find it hard to take care of yourself.
Don’t let it get to this breaking point. Here are some ways to cope:
- Get emotional support: Now is the time to lean in on support from your doctor, caregivers, family and friends. Don’t hide your diabetes from others, explains the CDC.11 Your support system can help you monitor your blood sugar levels, step up as an exercise buddy and help you prepare healthy meals. Be honest about any problems you’re facing and let people know how they can help you, recommends the CDC.12
- Pay attention to your diet: Changing your diet by yourself can be difficult. It might be helpful if you ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician who can help make sure you’re on the right path toward healthful eating. According to the American Diabetes Association13, your diet should include a variety of foods, like veggies, whole grains, fruits, non-dairy foods and lean meats. Eat three meals a day (not too much of one type of food), space your meals evenly throughout the day and don’t skip meals.
- Incorporate exercise into your routine: Physical activity helps lower your blood sugar, notes the American Diabetes Association.14 Talk to your doctor about which physical activity is right for you. A few ideas from the American Diabetes Association15 include walking, swimming, stretching or yoga.
- Ask for medical support: Insulin is expensive. But if you talk to your pharmacist or doctor, they might know of government programs that can help lessen the cost, says the CDC.16 The CDC17 also recommends checking with community health centers because they might have information about programs that can help you get discounted rates for insulin, diabetes medicine and supplies.
Now is an excellent time to educate and empower yourself on how to live with diabetes. Here are two top resources to help you get started:
- The American Diabetes Association18: This website contains resources to help you learn more about the disease. It offers recipe ideas, information about clinical trials and insulin affordability resources.
- Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists19: As a Humana member, enrolling in a diabetes education class is free. You can look for a diabetes education program that’s met the standards of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
We know that being newly diagnosed with diabetes can be stressful. But taking care of yourself, managing your medication and getting connected to a support system are all steps you can take to proactively manage your diagnosis.