type 1 vs type 2 diabetes
Metabolic Health
Medically Reviewed iconMedically Reviewedcevron icon

Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

Even though diabetes type 1 vs type 2 are metabolic disorders that cause an increase in blood sugar levels, they are different in many ways. The Main difference between type 1 diabetes vs type 2 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 one and type two diabetes

What is the Difference Between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

The prime difference between diabetes 1 and 2 is highlighted using the table below:

                                      Type 1                                                                                                                                                                       Type 2                                                                                                                                                              
What is the issue inside the body?   Usually, due to autoimmune disorder, the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for secreting insulin eventually the body is unable to make insulin.   The inability of the body to make an optimum quantity of insulin required by the body or the inability of the body to use the produced insulin effectively.          
Symptoms                             The appearance of symptoms is quite sudden                                                                                                                                   The appearance of symptoms is gradual and slow                                                                                                                      
  Risks associated                   The accurate risk factor causing type 1 diabetes is still unknown                                                                                                             Certain factors like physical inactivity, poor lifestyle, etc. can lead to the diagnosis.                                                                            
How to manage?                       Taking insulin is required by your body to control blood sugar levels.                                                                                                       There are many ways to manage type 2 such as physical activity, consuming a balanced diet, practicing mental peace, etc. Some people might also be given insulin.    
Prevention and cure                   Research is still ongoing to find the accurate cure and prevention of type 2 diabetes.                                                                                       In some cases, it cannot be cured. However, improving your lifestyle and diet can help to control the disease in some cases.                                            

How common is type 1 diabetes

Diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is less common as compared to type 2 diabetes mellitus. As per recent research, type 1 diabetes symptoms and diagnosis are experienced by 5-10 percent of all people with diabetes. 

Although there is no age factor attached to having diabetes, it has been observed that children, teens, and young adults, are developing type 1 diabetes. 

How common is type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes that people are getting diagnosed with lately. Statistically, about 90-95 percent of people having diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. 

Fortunately, there is a scope for people with type 2 to treat diabetes via lifestyle changes or surgeries.

Book a Free Session

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.

What happens when you have type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

 The basic point if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes is that your blood has too much concentration of glucose in it. Put down into simpler words, the sugar levels in the blood are high. However, the point of difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes is how the sugar levels get elevated. For people with type 1, the diagnosis is a result of an autoimmune disorder. This happens when your body has automatically charged on and destroyed the cells that are responsible for making insulin hormone. Such a condition makes your body incapable of producing insulin for smooth functioning. 

Insulin is an essential hormone that is required by our body to transport glucose from our blood to the cells. The glucose is then used as energy to carry out other functions. However, the absence of insulin leads to the buildup of glucose in the blood which leads to elevated sugar levels. 

On the other hand, if you have type 2 diabetes, the body does produce insulin but it is unable to produce the optimum quantity required by your body, or else it may be producing the optimum quantity but the insulin is not working properly. Such a situation causes insulin resistance. Eventually, this leads to the same thing as type 1 which is a buildup of glucose in the blood.

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.


  • 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.

The emotional impact of type 1 and type 2 diabetes

The emotional side of having diabetes is often less talked about. Living with diabetes is not a stressful task, not just physically but also mentally. After knowing what is type 1 and type 2 diabetes, you must know that having it for the long term can make you feel anxious and low. Although you might be putting efforts to tackle your diabetes, the emotional impact can worsen your condition. 

Before drowning yourself in the thought that ‘I’m alone’ reach out for support. You can gain support via helpline numbers where you can open up about your situation to counselors and other people who are fighting the same disorder. Amongst the many things, you can indulge yourself in improving your mental state, make sure to opt for things that suit your well-being. 

Spotting the difference in the mental impact of type 1 vs type 2 diabetes can be troubling as irrespective of the type, people with diabetes face a lot of confusion regarding the alterations they should make to treat the disease. Although, there might be a slight difference depending on the type you are diagnosed with. 

The bottom line is that having diabetes, irrespective of the type, can feel emotionally depleting. Remember that you are not alone in this journey and there is always an opportunity to reach out to people facing similar problems and support each other’s journey.

How to diagnose type 1 diabetes vs type 2?

 Type 1 diabetes may be diagnosed suddenly and contrarily, type 2 gets diagnosed gradually. A person with type 2 diabetes may not be able to experience any symptoms at early stages however performing a blood test will reveal spiked sugar levels. If you are overweight or obese and your sugar levels are high, possibilities are that you might be diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes.

 Here are some tests that are used to diagnose diabetes type 1 and type 2. However, they might not work for both types. 

1) A1c test- To perform this test the expert will take your blood samples that will reveal your average blood sugar levels for the past few months. 

2) Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test- This test is undergone after fasting for a minimum of 8 hours. Usually, it is done before having your breakfast. 

3) Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)- Your blood levels are recorded 2 hours before and 2 hours after consuming a sugar drink. This test reveals how effectively your body is processing insulin. 

4) Random plasma glucose (RPF) test- This is taken by an expert randomly at any time of the day to measure and observe your blood glucose levels. 

The following result chart will enable us to accurately diagnose diabetes.

            A1c %         FPG (mg/dl) OGTT (mg/dl after 2 hours) RPG (mg/dl)
Normal       Under 5.7 %   Under 100   Under 140                   Under 200  
Diabetes     6.5% or more 126 or more 200 or more                 200 or more
Prediabetes 5.7%-6.4%     100-125     140-199                     -          

It is advised that people 45+ years of age must frequently get tested for type 2 diabetes. Also, people with a diabetic family history should get themselves tested often. You can also perform blood sugar tests at home and consult a doctor if you notice strange fluctuations.

How is type 1 and type 2 diabetes treated?

We can know the difference between type 2 diabetes vs type 1 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.

Which diets are recommended for diabetes?

Managing your diet plays a major role in tackling your diabetes effectively. As type 1 vs type 2 diabetes symptoms vary slightly, their treatments through diet also vary. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin, therefore, it is a must for them to consult their doctor about the quantity of insulin they need to provide their body after having certain foods. If you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and you consume certain carbohydrates that spike blood sugar levels then you must be aware of the quantity of insulin you need to provide your body to balance out the spiked sugar levels. 

On the other hand, people having type 2 diabetes have to be conscious about eating healthily. Type 2 diabetes meal plans are focused on losing weight through eating low-calorie foods. For it to be effective you must avoid processed foods, animal fats, sodium, sugary drinks, alcohol, etc. Such diets are also recommended for people who have prediabetes. 

What may suit somebody else may not suit your body, so it is important to consult a dietician who’ll prepare a customized meal plan for you that suits your needs and fulfills your goals.


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 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. 

What is the difference between type-1 and type-2 diabetes?

For the question what's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes ? - The prime difference is that in people with type 1 diabetes the pancreas is unable to produce insulin and for people with type 2 diabetes the pancreas is inefficient in producing an optimum quantity of insulin or the insulin produced is not used properly. Both of these types are forms of diabetes mellitus and lead to hyperglycemia, which is spiked blood sugar levels.


  • https://www.healthline.com/health/difference-between-type-1-and-type-2-diabetes


This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.