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Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by increased blood sugar levels, but it can take in different forms. The two most prevalent types are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. These two conditions differ significantly in their causes, onset, and how it has been managed in terms of the treatment. Hopefully this following article provide a comprehensive understanding of the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, is a chronic condition where the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas or the pancreas (located inside your abdomen, just behind your stomach) doesn’t make enough insulin or no insulin. It is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Insulin is a type of hormone the body uses which allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells in order to produce produce energy. Most of the patients with Type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent and may require external insulin injections for survival.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder presented by insulin resistance and/or insufficient insulin production. In type 2, the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin, and the pancreas may struggle to produce sufficient insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is often related to the lifestyle factors such as obesity, sedentary behavior, and genetic predisposition. Treatment is lifestyle modifications such as dieting, exercise, losing weight, oral medications, and, in some cases, insulin therapy.


Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes share many common features such as chronic conditions affecting blood sugar regulation, and needing ongoing monitoring and lifestyle modifications. Both type 1 and type 2 can lead to similar long-term complications, and therefore focusing on the importance of proactive management is crucial. While genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing diabetes in both cases, the underlying causes, onset, and treatment strategies vary. Individuals with either type must maintain blood sugar within target ranges, focusing on the importance of personalized care to address the each condition.

Both types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic diseases that alters the way our body regulates blood sugar or glucose. 

Type 1 Diabetes (DM1)

Type 1 diabetes has a sudden onset and is caused by an autoimmune reaction and develops in early stages of life

Type 2 Diabetes (DM2)

Type 2 diabetes develops over a course of many years and is influenced by unhealthy lifestyle patterns and obesity and excess weight.

Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

1.      Definition

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disorder (genetic condition) characterized by the immune system destroying insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This results in a deficiency of insulin, the hormone essential for regulating blood sugar levels. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes, which is often associated with lifestyle factors, Type 1 Diabetes typically starts in childhood or adolescence with a sudden onset. Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes managed by external insulin administration.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by insulin resistance and insufficient insulin production. In this condition, the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, and the pancreas struggle to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes is often associated with lifestyle factors, including obesity, sedentary behavior, and genetic predisposition. DM2 typically presents in adulthood, though increasing rates among younger individuals are observed. Management involves lifestyle modifications, oral medications, and, in some cases, insulin therapy, with a focus on controlling blood sugar levels to prevent complications such as cardiovascular issues, kidney problems, and neuropathy.

2.      Risk factors

Type 1 Diabetes

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Family history – Individuals with type 1 diabetes either in their parents or siblings are at an increased risk of developing it
  • Age – Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, but it’s most common among children and adolescents.

Type 2 Diabetes

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Obesity and excess weight
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Anyone having slightly high blood sugar levels or prediabetes  
  • Age above 45 years
  • physically active less than 3 times a week
  • have given birth to a child that weighs more than 9 pounds
  • have ever had diabetes during pregnancy – gestational diabetes
  • are American Indian, Black, Latino or Hispanic, or Alaska Native due to structural inequities contributing to health disparities
  • Symptoms

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes appearance in several weeks of:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Increased urination and thirst

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes appearance in several years of:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Increased urination and thirst

4.      Insulin

    Type 1 Diabetes

Body does not make enough insulin

          Type 2 Diabetes

Body cannot use insulin properly

5.      Prevention

Type 1 Diabetes

Preventing Type 1 Diabetes remains a challenge as its onset is primarily connected to autoimmune factors and genetic predisposition. Currently, there are no definitive preventive measures exist for Type 1 Diabetes. But, ongoing research is focused on understanding the triggers that initiate the autoimmune response leading to beta cell destruction. Identifying these triggers could possibly help to create targeted interventions to delay or prevent the development of Type 1 DM in individuals at risk.

Type 2 Diabetes

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes is through lifestyle modifications and health-conscious choices. The main preventive measures are maintaining a healthy weight through regular physical activity and a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoiding high consumption of sugary and processed foods, as well as minimizing sedentary behavior, can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.


The points of difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have been summarized as below:

Clinical FeaturesType 1 DiabetesType 2 Diabetes
EtiologyAutoimmune (immune system attacks pancreatic beta cells)Insulin resistance and inadequate insulin production due to lifestyle and genetic factors
Onset and Age of DiagnosisSudden onset, often in childhood or adolescenceGradual onset, commonly in adulthood, but increasingly diagnosed in younger individuals
Insulin Always insulin-dependentMay or may not require insulin; managed with lifestyle changes, oral medications, or injectables
Lifestyle FactorsNot preventable; unrelated to lifestyle choicesOften associated with obesity, sedentary behavior, and poor dietary habits; manageable with lifestyle modifications
PrevalenceApproximately 5-10% of diabetes casesApproximately 90-95% of diabetes cases
Treatment ApproachInsulin therapy required from diagnosisTreatment includes lifestyle changes, oral medications, and insulin as needed
ComplicationsProne to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)Increased risk of cardiovascular complications, neuropathy, and kidney disease
Genetic FactorsGenetic predisposition is a factorGenetic factors may contribute, but lifestyle plays a significant role

What are the first signs of being diabetic?

The first signs of being diabetic include: heavy thirst, blurry vision, peeing a lot, weight loss, sugar in your urine, numb or tingling feet, fatigue, more hunger, sores and slow-healing cuts and sores.

What are the 3 main symptoms of diabetes?

The 3 main symptoms of diabetes include the 3 polyps – polydipsia, polyuria, and polyphagia.

How does diabetes affect your body?

Diabetes elevates the risk of many cardio-vascular problems. These can include angina (pain in chest), coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).

Can you get a rid of diabetes?

Reversing or curing diabetes permanently is not possible. However, with doctor’s instructions, good dietary and exercising habits and medications, the glucose levels can be well managed, which can slow down the progression of diabetes and prevent complications.

What is the main cause of diabetes?

The exact cause of most types of diabetes is unknown. In most of the cases, diet rich in simple sugars, cholesterol, fat, and high in calories, also causes fluctuations in glucose levels in the body and increase the resistance of the body to insulin. Other causes include genetics, obesity, heart diseases and environmental factors

What food causes diabetes?

Sugary foods, fried foods, sugar sweetened beverages, fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, white rice, white bread, packaged snacks and baked items and processed foods

What organ does diabetes affect the most?

Diabetes affects kidneys, eyes, heart, blood vessels (whole circulation) and even brain the most your heart and your whole circulation.

How long can you live with diabetes?

The combined diabetic life expectancy is seventy-four to seventy-five years – in comparison to the general population life expectancy.

How do you feel when your blood sugar is too high?

Symptoms of high blood sugar include:

  • too much thirst
  • increased urination
  • feeling weak or tired
  • weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • dry mouth
  • feeling of bloating

Can drinking water reduce diabetes?

Water helps control blood glucose levels by reversing prediabetes to some extent and it is also a better and a healthy substitute for sodas and fruit juices (which have high processed sugar in them).

What’s the best breakfast for a diabetic?

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Overnight chia seed pudding
  • Oatmeal
  • Multigrain avocado toast
  • Low carb smoothies
  • Wheat bran cereal
  • Cottage cheese, fruit, and nut bowl

What kind of food should diabetics avoid?

  • Bagel and Cream Cheese
  • Store-Bought Muffins
  • Sausage
  • Sugary Cereals
  • Sweetened Yogurts
  • Sugary Pastry
  • Freshly Juiced Fruit
  • Stack of Pancakes

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  1. Causes of diabetes

    Heredity is a major factor of diabetes. That diabetes can be inherited has been known for centuries. However, the pattern of inheritance is not fully understood. Statistic indicates that those with a family history of the disease have a higher risk of developing diabetes than those without such a background. The risk factor is 25 to 33 percent more.

    • Heredity is a factor in Type 2 diabetes, but probably not for Type 1.

      • My father has type 1 diabetes, so did his grandfather. When I was born (and a couple times since) they tested me for “indicators” of type 1 diabetes, and I didn’t have any of them, thank goodness. Doctors have told my family, though, that they think type 1 definetely(sp) deals with heredity, but they think it skips a generation. It is also more common in men, last I knew.

  2. The sentence “The insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas is destroyed by the body and this makes it deficient in insulin.” should say something like “The insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body’s immune system. Without these, then body cannot produce any insulin.”

    The sentence “Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your body. Thenormal glucose (sugar) cannot be absorbed by the body without insulin. As a result, there is an increase in the blood sugar levels of the person.” has a typo, it should be something like “Insulin is a hormone that lets the cells in your body use glucose which lowers your blood glucose levels. Without insulin this blood glucose cannot be used by your body and your blood glucose levels will rise. The increased blood glucose levels will cause thirst initially and ultimately will damage your body cells in a number of ways.”

    As I keep going I realize this entire article could do with a complete rewrite. For example the sentence “Preventing the disease is not very difficult” is not true. In some cases you can prevent type 2 diabetes, but not always. I’ve got friends with T2 who are thin and exercise frequently, this generalization is a myth and is misleading.

    Drop me a line if you need a hand with the rewrite.



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References :

[0]Cnop, M., Welsh, N., Jonas, J. C., Jorns, A., Lenzen, S., & Eizirik, D. L. (2005). Mechanisms of pancreatic β-cell death in type 1 and type 2 diabetes: many differences, few similarities. Diabetes, 54(suppl_2), S97-S107.

[1]Dabelea, D., Mayer-Davis, E. J., Saydah, S., Imperatore, G., Linder, B., Divers, J., ... & Hamman, R. F. (2014). Prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents from 2001 to 2009. Jama, 311(17), 1778-1786.

[2]Rawshani, A., Rawshani, A., Franzén, S., Eliasson, B., Svensson, A. M., Miftaraj, M., ... & Gudbjörnsdottir, S. (2017). Mortality and cardiovascular disease in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. New England journal of medicine, 376(15), 1407-1418.

[3]Zaccardi, F., Webb, D. R., Yates, T., & Davies, M. J. (2016). Pathophysiology of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus: a 90-year perspective. Postgraduate medical journal, 92(1084), 63-69.

[4]Images: From Canva

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