New Health Guide

What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Oct 10, 2014

Diabetes mellitus, known simply as diabetes is described as a metabolism disorder. When we speak of metabolism we are referring to the way digestion occurs in our bodies. Diabetes is a disease characterized by high sugar (glucose) in the blood. There are two major causes of the metabolic disease. Diabetes could occur when the body has inadequate insulin production or when the cells fail to respond adequately to insulin. Diabetic patients tend to experience symptoms such as frequent urination (polyuria), frequent bouts of hunger (polyphagia) and thirst (polydipsia). What are the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Watch a video for basic comparison between type 1 and type 2 diabetes before reading on for more:

Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1

Type 2

Basic Information

70 percent of type 1 diabetes diagnoses are in early adulthood in persons aged below 30 years old. The good news is that this type of diabetes doesn’t affect many, and it accounts for only five to 10 percent of the diabetic population. With type 1 diabetes, the body fails to produce sufficient insulin meaning the patient will have to take insulin injections for life. This is why type 1diabetes is referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes was for the longest time referred to as ‘adult onset diabetes’. However over the past two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported cases of an increase in adolescents and children in the U.S with this diabetes. This is the most prevalent type of diabetes and accounts for 90 percent of diabetics. Type 2 diabetes occurs when then the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or when the cells resist the insulin, sometimes both. This is a progressive disease which gets worse with age.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are acute and occur suddenly. Most patients only realize that they have diabetes when they visit a clinic or the emergency room with high blood sugar symptoms. The symptoms could be dire and sometimes patients of type 1 diabetes are admitted in the intensive care unit.

Some of the signs of this condition include: thirst and a dry mouth, increased hunger, blurred vision, sudden weight loss even with normal eating, pain sensations in the feet and hands, sometimes both and frequent infections.

Type 1 and 2 diabetes share symptoms but symptoms in type 2 diabetes are normally unnoticeable as they occur gradually. Some of the major symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: frequent urination which mostly occurs at night, fatigue, feeling sick, abnormal thirst, blurred vision, unexplainable weight loss and increased infections which heal slowly.

Type 2 diabetes is also an asymptomatic disease and this is because it does not exhibit symptoms meaning it could go unnoticed for years.

Physical attributes of patients

Type 1 diabetes is not associated with obesity. The patients are usually of normal weight or thin.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity. Overweight persons have a higher likelihood of developing this condition.


Diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is conducted with a series of medical tests. A Glycated Hemoglobin test (A1C) is conducted to test the level of blood sugar over the past few months. Random blood sugar tests are also conducted as well as fasting blood sugar test which is done after an overnight fast. The fast test is more reliable than a random blood sugar test. When diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor will take blood samples to look for auto-antibodies which are common with this diabetes. The tests are normally conducted twice.

Genetic and idiopathic factors are also considered with diagnosis. Genetic testing is conducted in cases where there is a family history of the disease.

Type 2 diabetes may have no symptoms making diagnosis difficult. However, the doctor could notice signs of obesity, increased or low birth weight, poor growth of the placenta, gestational diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well.

The series of diagnostic tests are in type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include the A1C test which identifies the amount of blood sugar in the hemoglobin. Sometimes the results of the A1C test may be unreliable and this is in cases where the patient has certain conditions such as hemoglobin variant or is pregnant. In such cases random blood sugar and fasting blood sugar tests are conducted. An oral glucose tolerance test could also be conducted though rarely.


Type 1 diabetes requires lifelong

treatments and these include taking insulin injections to replace the insufficient production.

Patients also need to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels.

A healthy lifestyle, diet and regular exercise is recommended to control the condition.

The goal of treatment is to prevent chronic complications such as kidney damage and others from occurring. Treatment also ensures that the body has optimal glucose levels and the individuals’ nutritional needs are met.

The treatment for type 2 diabetes includes weight loss and this is done by engaging the patient in a dietary and exercise program. A good diet is essential in people with type 2 diabetes and this diet basically consists of low glycemic foods which are high in fiber. These include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods help stabilize blood sugar levels and the patients will normally work with a dietician or nutritionist.

Foods that have refined carbohydrates, sugars and animal products are generally restricted.

Insulin injections could be used to regulate production and medication is provided in many cases.

Medication could be taken orally or injected to control the levels blood sugar. Self monitoring of blood sugar levels is necessary since this is the only way a patient can ensure that their levels are within healthy range.


Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented as it occurs due to the pancreas failure to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Luckily, it is controllable.

Type 2 diabetes is preventable and can be delayed with a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy diet along with exercise could prevent or delay the onset of this condition.

Here is another video in greater detail: