People need to be more aware of the differences in diabetes

Having finished year 11 just a few weeks ago, I have had plenty of time to sit and contemplate many different ideas and problems, writes Benjamin Clarke.

Topical for me, I began to think about the stigma surrounding type 1 diabetes and the reality behind this widely uneducated disease.

Benjamin Clarke

Benjamin Clarke

It would be easy for me to moan about how there shouldn’t be a mix up between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

However I want to explore the little changes that can be easily made to separate the two completely different diseases.

Ironically, I refer to these two diseases as completely different, but the recurring theme in both would be the pancreas.

In type 1, the pancreas stops producing insulin – preventing the breakdown of sugars in the blood, while in type 2 the insulin is still produced by the pancreas – but the body becomes resistant to the insulin - so it doesn’t become as effective in breaking down the sugars in the blood.

Now, it is widely known that type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle choices – a huge factor is obesity, or simply old age.

However, this is then (wrongly) diffused into the belief about type 1 diabetes which has become a label for the consumption of excessive amounts of sugar.

This sugar control belief means people living with type 1 constantly have to live with the spotlight on sugar, while get bombarded with questions like ‘can you eat sugar?’ and ‘did you used to eat a lot of food?’.

This public interpretation means it becomes an embarrassment for type 1 diabetics whilst out in the public, being giving unintentional abuse from a disease they got due to genetics – not food consumption.

However, I wondered what we can do – in our modern-day society – to overcome this idea that type 1 diabetes is remotely similar to type 2 diabetes.

If we start at the top, it surely wouldn’t be too difficult for news coverage to stop using the phrases diabetes and diabetic and just add the form of diabetes before – because it would add the clarity needed.

Furthermore, when out in public, if you see somebody doing a blood test, don’t go making someone feel uncomfortable by using statements that aren’t true, or that you aren’t sure about – if you’re curious, then accept the situation isn’t ever as easy it may appear.

Finally, I’d suggest something massive and possibly contradictory: we could go and change the names of type 1 and type 2 diabetes to something completely different.

With different names they have different meanings and purposes, and there would be no need for articles like this.

If we could give these two separate diseases different names, we create clarity.

We eliminate many of the reasons young people with type 1 diabetes hide and rebel against the disease.

The term diabetes refers to a disease which drains patients of more fluid than they consume – but surely for us now, and what we scientifically know, isn’t diabetes more than just the loss of fluids?