What’s in a name? Everything and nothing!

20 02 2014

diabetes--the-difference-between-type-1-and-type-2_50290b94120af_w1500

When Cole was diagnosed with T1D, I knew nothing about the disease. In fact, and I am embarrassed to say this, but when someone said “diabetes” I, like so many others, thought of the diabetes that comes with poor diet and old age. Now that I am wiser, through a necessary education and personal experience, I feel strongly that we need a new name for either T1D or T2D.

The two diseases are different enough that progress in public awareness of both diseases is stunted by sharing the same name. I have subscribed to dozens of blogs, websites, newsletters, etc. that conflate the two diseases and it makes no sense! The cause and the treatment of T1D and T2D are completely different. The prescribed diets for those with the different diseases are different. So why not acknowledge that difference with a name change? I don’t actually care which disease undergoes the name change, and I mean that. I am just as comfortable talking about a disease called, say, pancreatic auto-immune disorder (PAID) as I am diabetes.

A name change would not only help with awareness, but it would alleviate confusion over life-saving advice. We don’t really want a T1D to limit carbs to 30-50 a day, but that is often treatment for those living with T2D and the advice I get daily in my inbox even though my son is T1D. To put this in perspective, my son is supposed to eat 240 carbs a day.

The other thing I think that could be accomplished with a name change is the untethering of research funds. (And yes, I am being purely selfish here.) A lot of fundraising organizations that support diabetes research used to focus only on T1D, but now that T2D has nearly approached an epidemic, these organizations are also fundraising for T2D. That is money that would have gone specifically to T1d research, but now it is being shared. And let’s be honest. There are people out there (I am one of them) who would be quite willing to donate to support T1D, but not T2D. And to be quite honest, I think T1D is more worthy of research and donated funds. We need to find a cure for T1D because, unlike T2D, T1D cannot be managed with lifestyle changes alone.

Here’s an infographic that puts the differences between the two types of diabetes in perspective.

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