Confusion Over Diabetes Types Adds to Patients' Woes

Causes, treatment differ between type 1 and type 2 disease

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three Americans will have type 2 diabetes by the year 2050 if current trends continue.

It is sometimes possible to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes with exercise and diet, which help the body use insulin more effectively.

"People who begin an exercise program of 30 minutes a day and who lose 7 percent of their body weight decrease their risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent," said Elaine Sullivan, associate director of clinical education programs at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

Most people with type 2 diabetes try to consume a consistent amount of carbohydrates with each meal to help keep their blood-sugar levels stable. The amount of carbohydrates is individualized based on your weight and activity level.

Oral medications are available to help control blood-sugar levels, and many people with type 2 diabetes eventually need insulin therapy.

Both forms of diabetes have potentially life-threatening consequences. Uncontrolled, diabetes can damage major organs and cause heart disease, stroke and even lead to amputation of a limb.

More information

Learn more about type 1 and type 2 diabetes from the U.S. National Diabetes Education Program.

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