Differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes both occur when the body cannot properly make, store and use glucose, which is essential for energy. It can lead to severe complications if sugar accumulates in the blood without getting to the cells that need it.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks the pancreatic beta cells so that they can no longer make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is often hereditary and cannot be prevented.

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Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people age, but many children are now starting to develop it. This type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces insulin, but the body cannot effectively use it. Lifestyle factors appear to play a role in its development.

Both types of diabetes can lead to:

  • kidney disease
  • cardiovascular disease
  • neurological conditions
  • vision loss
  • damage to blood vessels and organs.

Another type is gestational diabetes. This occurs in pregnancy and typically resolves after childbirth, but some people then develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Causes of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 have different causes, but they both involve insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the way blood sugar converts to energy.

Type 1 diabetes

Researchers suspects that for type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. The cause of this is yet unknown, however, childhood infections may play a role.

The immune system destroys these cells, making it difficult for the body to make enough insulin to control blood glucose levels. A person with type 1 diabetes will need to use supplemental insulin from the time they receive the diagnosis and for the rest of their life.

Type 1 often affects children and young adults, but it can happen later in life. It can start suddenly, and it tends to worsen quickly.

Risk factors include:

  • family history of diabetes
  • being born with certain genetic features that affect the way the body produces or uses insulin
  • some medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis
  • exposure to some infections or viruses

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells of the body begins to resist the effects of insulin. The body will stop producing enough insulin over time, so it can no longer use glucose effectively. This means glucose fails to enter the cells, but accumulates in the blood, a condition called insulin resistance.

READ ALSO: 15 Effective Ways to Prevent Diabetes

It can happen when the person always or often has high blood glucose. When the body’s cells are excessively exposed to insulin, they become less responsive to it, or maybe they no longer respond at all.

Symptoms may take years to appear. People may use medications, diet, and exercise from the early stages to ease the risk or slow the disease.

A person with type 2 diabetes does not need supplemental insulin. As the disease progresses, however, they may need it to control their blood glucose levels in order to stay healthy.

Risk factors

Genetic and environmental factors may trigger both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but many people may be able to avoid type 2 by making healthful lifestyle choices.

Research has also suggested that some other environmental factors might play a role.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • being obese
  • having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • smoking
  • unhealthful diet
  • a lack of exercise
  • use of some medications, including some anti-seizure drugs and some medications for HIV

Vitamin D

For type 1 and type 2 diabetes, low levels of vitamin D may be responsible, according to some studies. A review published in 2017 suggests that when a person lacks vitamin D, certain processes in the body, such as immune function and insulin sensitivity, do not work as well as they should. The primary source of vitamin D is exposure to sunshine. Food sources include oily fish and fortified dairy products.


Breastfeeding a child, even for a short time, may help prevent type 1 diabetes in the future, according to some researchers.


A person with diabetes may experience symptoms and complications due to inadequate levels of blood sugar.

The symptoms and complications of type 1 and type 2 diabetes before and at the onset of the condition is as explained below:

Type 1 diabetes

Before onset: BMI is within a healthy range of 19- 24.9

At onset: Increased thirst and urination, blurry vision, increased hunger, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, tingling sensation in hands and feet, sores that take long to heal.

Complications: Cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, nerve damage, loss of vision, prolonged wound healing, ketoacidosis.

Type 2 diabetes

Before onset: BMI above the healthy range (25 or over)

At onset: Development over several years of increased hunger, thirst, and urination, fatigue, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, unexplained weight loss, sores that takes long to heal, and blurred vision.

Complications: Cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and kidney failure, eye problems, nerve damage, ketoacidosis, prolonged healing of wound which can lead to gangrene and need for amputation.


Hyperglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar is too high. Other accompanying symptoms may include frequent urination, increased thirst, cardiovascular disease, loss of vision, and organ failure.

This can lead to ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that needs urgent medical attention.

Symptoms include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • a fruity smell on the breath
  • nausea and vomiting
  • a dry mouth
  • coma


Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are too low. This can result in diabetes if the person uses more insulin or drugs that cause the body to produce insulin than is needed.

Early symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • sweating, chills, and a pale face
  • rapid heartbeat
  • feeling shaky, nervous, and anxious
  • feeling dizzy and lightheaded
  • tingling sensation
  • fatigue
  • headache

READ ALSO: How to Use Aloe vera to Ease Diabetes Symptoms

To relieve the symptoms, a person should take a glucose tablet, a candy, or a sweet drink. Consume a protein-based food, such as peanut butter.

If left untreated for long the person may experience:

  • loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • coma


The onset of type 1 diabetes tends to be sudden. If symptoms are present, the person should see a doctor as soon as possible.

A person with prediabetes will have no symptoms, but a routine blood test will indicate high blood sugar levels.

People with obesity and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes should have regular checks to ensure that their glucose levels are healthy. If tests show they are high, the person can take action to delay or prevent diabetes and its complications.

The following tests can assess for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but they may not all be useful for both types:

  • A1C test, which doctors also call the hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, or glycohemoglobin test
  • Fasting plasma glucose(FPG) test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test(OGTT)
  • Random plasma glucose(RPG) test

Treatment and prevention

There is currently no cure for diabetes. However, treatment can help people to manage symptoms and and prevent it from deteriorating.

Type 1 diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes has no cure, however, symptoms can be managed with lifetime treatments.
  • For type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections or using an insulin pump can provide insulin as required through the day and night. Also, drugs, such as pramlintide, can prevent glucose levels from rising excessively.
  • Ensure that you follow the treatment plan and the doctor’s instructions regarding insulin and glucose testing.
  • Follow an active, healthful lifestyle to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health issues.
  • During workouts, be mindful of glucose levels.
  • It is not possible to prevent type 1 diabetes for now.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes also has no cure, but measures can slow progression and manage symptoms. Undergoing a gastric bypass may reduce symptoms in people with severe obesity.
  • Taking metformin can reduce the amount of sugar the liver produces.
    Also, blood sugar levels can be reduced by taking SGLT2 inhibitors, DP-4 inhibitors, or alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs) as prescribed by doctor.
  • Meglitinides or sulfonylureas can increase insulin levels. Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) can increase sensitivity to insulin. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists can increase insulin and reduce sugar levels. Amylin analogs can reduce blood sugar by slowing digestion.
  • Eat a healthful diet and exercise regularly
    Quit smoking
  • Control blood pressure and manage high cholesterol levels
    Know the signs of adverse effects and complications.
  • Follow a doctor’s instructions based on their diagnosis.

Source: healthline.com, goodfoodeating.com

Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.



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