Type 1 Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Extreme irritability

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Any of the Type 1 symptoms
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing cuts/bruises
  • Tingling in hands/feet
  • Numbness in hands/feet
  • Recurring skin infections
  • Recurring bladder infections
  • Recurring gum infections


Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). It is caused by a lack of insulin secretion, lack of insulin action, or sometimes both. When these blood sugar levels go uncontrolled over a long period of time they can cause complications such as stroke, heart disease, nerve problems, and retina damage. Diabetes is divided into two groups: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed, and the body does not produce insulin (the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels). Type 1 is most prevalent in children and young adults, and it accounts for 5-10% of diabetes diagnoses.

Type 2 Diabetes

The body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells ignore insulin. Type 2 has a strong link to obesity and is the most common type of diabetes.


Type 1 Diabetes

For most cases, people need to inherit genetic risk factors from both parents, but not everyone who inherits these risk factors develops the disease. Exposure to certain foods, viruses, and toxins are thought to activate the genetic risk factors. Autoimmune disease also has a role to play; antibodies, whose role it is to fight external bacteria and viruses, attack and destroy the body’s cells responsible for making insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle factors, such as overeating and under exercising, are trigger factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. Both may lead to the development of obesity, which causes high insulin resistance. Family history and linage has a stronger role than in type 1, as families tend to have similar eating and exercising habits. Type 2 diabetes also has a strong genetic component.


Diet, insulin/non-insulin therapy, and exercise all need to be constantly monitored and manipulated to treat diabetes. The goal is to keep blood sugar at a healthy level.

Diet for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Intake of carbohydrates should be monitored to control blood sugar level. Meals should be planned in advance to achieve optimum food choices that are low in trans fats and saturated fats. Diabetics should minimize alcohol intake, and precautions should be taken to avoid low blood sugar levels.

Physical Exercise for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Regular exercise should be part of every diabetes treatment plan as it improves blood sugar control, reduces risk of heart problems, and helps with weight loss. It is recommended that diabetics get at least 150 minutes of exercise over the course of one week. Moderate to intense aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, or cycling is encouraged.

When choosing drug therapy for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, cost, risk of low blood sugar levels, side effects, effectiveness, and patient choice are all taken into account.

Pharmacological Management of Type 1 Diabetes

Long and short acting insulin is used to control blood sugar levels. It is delivered by injection into the skin 3-4 times a day or by a continuous insulin infusion pump. Diabetics keep a log of their blood sugar levels during the day, so that insulin doses can be adjusted accordingly.

Pharmacological Management of Type 2 Diabetes

Oral drugs, such as metformin (Glucophage*), can be used to control blood sugar levels. If ineffective, sometimes a combination of two oral drugs maybe prescribed. Insulin therapy is used when oral drugs are ineffective.

Additional Resources

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  • Hill, J. (2010). Prescribing in type 2 diabetes: choices and challenges.
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Page updated: January 6, 2023