Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)

T2D was once referred to as adult onset diabetes, but it can also occur in children. T2D is a serious medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. This happens as a result of the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin, or the body becoming resistant to it. Insulin is a natural hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. This hormone works by absorbing and processing glucose from the blood stream into the body’s cells to be used or stored for energy. Glucose is a form of sugar which is one of the main sources of fuel for all the cells of the body. Two of the body’s main sources of glucose comes from food and the liver. The liver makes glucose and stores it for future use. On the other hand, when you eat carbohydrates, your body produces insulin and the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream. When blood glucose levels drop as a result of skipping meals, the liver will break down glycogen into glucose. This will help to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In T2D, this process does not work properly, as the body does not product enough insulin or use the insulin it does produce properly.

In healthy people, the beta cells in the pancreas produce more insulin when blood sugar levels rise. Over time, however, these beta cells can become damaged and fail to meet the insulin needs of the body. If this happens, this is called T2D. There is no cure for T2D. However, this medical condition can be treated through regular exercise, healthy diet and maintaining a proper weight. If a healthy diet and exercise does not work, your doctor may prescribe an oral diabetes medication, such as metformin, to help control your blood glucose levels. T2D is more common compared to T1D. It is not yet known what causes T2D. However, environmental and genetic factors including physical inactivity and excess weight are believed to be contributing factors.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

T1D is a serious chronic condition where the beta cells produce little or no insulin. This condition was previously referred to as juvenile diabetes because it commonly begins in adolescence and childhood. However, adults can also be diagnosed with T1D. Despite ongoing research, this medical condition has no cure. Patients with T1D require insulin medications in addition to following a strict lifestyle that includes proper exercise and diet to help control blood glucose levels. Maintaining a normal blood glucose level is important because it can prevent health complications such as nerve damage, kidney problems or blindness. It remains unknown what causes T1D. In most cases, T1D occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, which leads to high blood sugar levels. There are certain risk factors such as family history, age and genetic factors which increase the risk of diabetes. Symptoms of T1D normally develop very fast in young people, usually after a few days or weeks. In adults, the symptoms usually take longer before they can start to show.


Symptoms of T1D include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irritability

—Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.