type 1 vs type 2 diabetes
Metabolic Health

Type-1 Vs Type-2 Diabetes

Even though type 1 and type 2 diabetes are metabolic disorders that cause an increase in blood sugar levels, they are different in many ways. The Main difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that often shows up early in life, and type 2 is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time. The differences are related to their causes, effects on general health, and disease management. Type 2 diabetes is more common as 8 or 9 out of 10 diabetics may have it. Let us dig deeper to discover factors that contribute to the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

How does diabetes affect the body?

We can understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 1 diabetes by knowing how they affect the body. Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting our body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels. Insulin is the main factor that drives sugar into the cells. It plays the role of a key that opens the cells to let the glucose enter into cells for energy generation. The ability of the body to make or use the available insulin is a crucial difference between type 1 and type 2 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, an individual lacks the key because there is no insulin production. The condition is genetic and becomes evident during early childhood. The body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.

On the contrary, individuals with type 2 diabetes produce insulin but cannot effectively use it for energy production. This is called insulin resistance. Over time their body may stop making sufficient insulin.

type 1 vs type 2 diabetes
Differences & Similarities between Types 1 & 2 Diabetes Mellitus.


  • Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder that affects people early in life. Environmental factors such as certain types of viruses may also trigger it.
  • Type 2 diabetes is an acquired disease that affects later in life when significant damage has been done due to poor lifestyle choices, conditions such as cystic fibrosis, hormonal disorders, and dependence on some medicines such as those for treating psychiatric issues, HIV, pneumonia, etc.
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  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune reaction in your body that attacks the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin and is mostly due to physical inactivity, obesity, and consumption of fatty foods.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms are useful indicators to appreciate diabetes type 1 and 2 differences. Most symptoms of diabetes are common irrespective of the type. The difference lies in the way these symptoms appear.

Type 1 diabetes: The symptoms of type 1 diabetes appear within a few months after birth or during adolescence. It explains why it is also known as juvenile-onset diabetes. The child may suffer from frequent urinary tract infections or fungal infections. Additionally, there may be stomach pain or nausea and vomiting.

Type 2 diabetes: In type 2 diabetes, a person may not notice any symptoms for many years. The appearance of type 2 diabetes symptoms is slow. It causes a delay in diagnosis. Many times diabetic complications lead to detection of the disease. One may not know the presence of Type 2 diabetes for many years.

The Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are quite similar and include-

  • The urge to urinate frequently.
  • Feeling thirsty all the time.
  • Feeling hungry frequently
  • Getting tired even without any exertion
  • Having wounds or cuts that don't heal soon enough.
  • Irritability
  • Frequent mood changes.
  • Unintended weight loss.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Dry skin.
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision.
  • Numbness and tingling in hands or feet
  • Women may have specific symptoms such as UTI, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, etc.
  • Men may report lower testosterone levels, impotence, etc.

However, the way the symptoms of Type 1 and  2 Diabetes present themselves is very different.

  • In Type 1 Diabetes, symptoms occur quickly, sometimes seen in as less as over a few weeks.
  • In Type 2 Diabetes, symptoms are slow to show up and in some cases do not develop or present at all and only get diagnosed accidentally in a routine checkup.

What causes diabetes?

Understanding the causes of diabetes is one way to know diabetes type 1 and 2 differences.  

  • Type 1 diabetes causes: Our immune system fights viruses and bacteria that invade our bodies. In type 1 diabetes the immune system mistakes insulin-secreting cells to be the invaders causing their destruction. It leads to the absence of insulin, which leads to an increase in sugar in the blood. The cells receive no glucose resulting in severe complications of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be due to genetic factors.
  • Type 2 diabetes causes: Individuals with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin but cannot use it effectively. Their cells are resistant to insulin, which increases blood glucose levels. A constant rise in blood sugar levels results in complications of diabetes. In some cases, the pancreas does not secrete sufficient insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels.

What are the risk factors for type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

We do not know the specific cause of type 1 diabetes, but the following factors contribute to the overall risk:

  • Age factor: Type 1 Diabetes commonly affects young patients.
  • External factors: An exposure to viral infection may trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes.
  • Genetic factors: The presence of specific genes may be a risk factor for type 1 diabetes mellitus.
  • Immune disturbances: Prevalence of diabetic auto-antibodies can increase the risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • Family traits: Having a family history of type 1 diabetes increases the risk. You have a significantly higher risk if both parents have type 1 diabetes.

The following risk factors of type 2 diabetes throw more light on the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:

  • Being overweight or obese: Obesity may cause your cells to develop insulin resistance.
  • Family history: Having parents or siblings with type 2 diabetes exposes you to the risk.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Gynaecological conditions: PCOD, a common gynaecological problem, can be a type 2 diabetes risk factor.

How are type 1 and type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

The difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes is evident if you consider the diagnostic tests. A blood glucose test such as random blood glucose offers a basic understanding. One must also go for more advanced tests such as A1C for an accurate diagnosis. It is a basic test to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.

Your physician may recommend other tests if the primary signs and symptoms hint at type 1 diabetes. They may check the blood sample to detect auto-antibodies or confirm the presence of ketones in the urine. Ketones indicate that the person’s body is sourcing energy by burning the fat. It is a sign of type 1 diabetes.

How is type 1 and type 2 diabetes treated?

We can know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus by understanding their treatment options. Type 1 diabetes treatment requires injectable insulin therapy as the body cannot produce insulin for glucose uptake by the cells. It also requires frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels to adjust the dose of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes treatment involves a multi-faceted approach. It involves lifestyle changes, medication, strict dietary restrictions, and regular exercises. The treatment also includes a significant amount of self-discipline and personal care to keep symptoms at bay. To prevent diabetic complications by maintaining normal sugar levels and leading an active life are vital aims of type 2 diabetes treatment.


There is no straightforward answer to the question what is the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes because both conditions involve high blood sugar levels. In type 1 diabetes, there is no insulin to transport glucose into the cells for energy production. In type 2 diabetes, the available insulin is ineffective because of insulin resistance.


Which is worse, type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

Though both diabetes types have their complications. However, type 2 diabetes can be reversed with early diagnosis and type 1 is irreversible. If a person makes some lifestyle changes he can prevent or treat type 2 diabetes but preventing type1 diabetes with lifestyle changes is far more difficult. These points make type 2 diabetes less severe than type 1 diabetes. However, if a person with type2 diabetes is negligent of his condition and doesn’t control his blood sugar level, then he can face equally dangerous complications as type1 diabetic people.

Which type of diabetes needs insulin?

It is always necessary for people with type 1 diabetes to take insulin injections as their body produces little or no insulin. On the other hand, type 2 diabetic people do not require insulin as their bodies can produce it. Type 1 diabetes that requires insulin is generally diagnosed in people early in life. Due to the non-functional pancreas in type 1 diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin, making the person dependent on outside sources to fulfill the insulin requirement of the body.

What is the 500 rule in diabetes?

The 500 rule is used to calculate the insulin to carb ratio of a diabetic person. To use the rule you need to divide the number 500 by the current total daily total dose of insulin. The result signifies the number of grams of carbohydrates that are covered by 1 unit of insulin. This ratio varies from person to person and is affected by numerous factors like the time of the day when the ratio is measured, weight fluctuations, age, and physical exertion.

Which diabetes type is genetic?

Type 2 diabetes wherein the body produces insulin but faces resistance to the insulin produced is mainly found to be genetic. According to the studies, type 2 diabetes has genetic links where a person with a family history of diabetes is highly prone to develop this type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has a hereditary component in it. However, apart from genetics, environmental factors also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, this type of diabetes can be prevented by making some lifestyle changes.

Which type of diabetes is reversible?

People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have the opportunity to reverse the disease by making lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising daily. At the early stage of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, a person can easily reverse the disease however, if it is too late it's difficult to go back to square one. This type of diabetes is also easier to control and can be managed by individual efforts.

Are there any other types of diabetes? 

There is a third type of diabetes called Gestational diabetes that is observed in pregnant women. They may not have diabetes before their pregnancy but their blood sugar levels fluctuate post pregnancy in these cases. Managing gestational diabetes is important for a healthy baby and a healthy mother too. 

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