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Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiFeb 16, 2024

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused when your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or your body fails to efficiently use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar; when your body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin effectively, your blood glucose level goes up. Diabetes is of two types: Type 1 and Type 2.  Keep reading the article to learn the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.




What is the difference between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes?

Even though Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes both have a common problem, which is the body's insulin production capacity or use of the insulin hormone effectively, there are some common points differentiating Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes.


Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes


It develops in early life.

It develops over the course of many years.


Needs insulin to be managed.

Can be managed with exercise, diet, and medication. Sometimes, insulin is also required wherever necessary.


In most of the cases, it is diagnosed at a very young age.

It is often detected in middle age.


Comparatively uncommon. 

Progressively common. 

Why does it happen?

It is caused by an autoimmune reaction that does not let your body produce enough insulin.

It is caused by insulin resistance. Even if the body produces insulin, it is unable to use the insulin efficiently.

Risk factors

Exact risk factors are still unclear.

There are various risk factors that cause Type 2 Diabetes, such as obesity, ethnicity, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, etc.


Symptoms often come very quickly and are difficult to ignore.

Symptoms often develop over a period of time.


Type 1 Diabetes cannot be cured. However, research is on.

Type 2 Diabetes cannot be cured, but can be managed by lifestyle modification and medication.

What causes Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are distinguished by abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood.

People with Type 1 Diabetes have an autoimmune condition wherein their body is incapable of making insulin hormone. The hormone insulin helps the glucose in your bloodstream enter your body's cells, where it is converted into energy.

In Type 2 Diabetes, your body either does not make adequate insulin or is unable to use the insulin efficiently, leaving excess sugar in your bloodstream. Which in turn surges the level of glucose in your blood substantially.

Risk factors of Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

The risk factors causing Type 1 Diabetes are not clear. However, some known risk factors include the following. 

  • Family history of Type 1 Diabetes (parent, or sibling with Type1 Diabetes)

  • Belong to Caucasian ethnicity (Caucasian people are more likely to get Type 1 Diabetes)

  • Young age (Type 1 Diabetes is more common at a young age especially in people of age 4 to 14).

On the contrary, Type 2 Diabetes has various risk factors, as listed below. 

  • Have obesity

  • Have elevated blood sugar levels

  • Maintain a sedentary lifestyle

  • Have hypertension

  • Have had heart disease or stroke

  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

  • Tend to have more processed and sugary foods

  • Have a lot of visceral fat

  • Have higher triglyceride and LDL levels

Other risk factors are the history of gestational diabetes, family history of Type 2 Diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, and age above 45 years.

Symptoms of Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

While both have some similar symptoms, the primary symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes are listed below.

  • Increased thirst and hunger

  • Unwanted weight loss or difficulty to gain weight (especially in infants and toddlers)

  • Frequent urination (bedwetting is often seen in children)

  • Genital yeast infections

  • Disrupted menstrual cycle

  • Miscarriage

  • Sleep disorder

  • Fruity breath

  • Blurry vision

  • Fatigue

Crucial symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes include the following. 

  • Frequent urination

  • Extreme hunger and thirst

  • Unintended weight loss

  • Blurry vision

  • Fatigue

  • Tingling sensation in hands and feet

  • Headaches

  • Genital yeast infection

  • Bleeding gums

  • Wounds, cuts, and sores do not heal easily

  • More than usual occurrence of infection 

How is Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes diagnosed?

 Both Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2 are detected by evaluating the symptoms and performing blood sugar tests. The following blood tests can help diagnose Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

Random blood sugar test: This test gives an idea of the amount of glucose present in an individual’s blood at a given point of time. This test can be performed at any point during the day.

Fasting blood sugar (FBS) test: This test clarifies the amount of glucose present in a person’s body after fasting for a minimum of 8 hours. FBS is carried out in the morning on an empty stomach.

HbA1C test: This test, also known as glycosylated haemoglobin, assesses an individual's average blood glucose level for the past three months.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test assesses how a person’s body processes glucose. In this case, a blood sample is taken 2 hours before and 2 hours after having any sugary food.

The table below shows what results indicate diabetes. 


Random blood sugar test (mg/dL)

Fasting Blood Sugar test (mg/dL)

Oral glucose tolerance test (mg/dL after 2 hrs)

HbA1C test (%)


200 or above

126 or above

200 or above

6.5% or above



100 – 125

140 – 199

5.7 to 6.4%


Below 200

Below 100

Below 140

Below 5.7%

 Long-term complications of Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

If you fail to manage Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes effectively, you may encounter these long-term complications;

  • Ketoacidosis (a condition when your body can not produce sufficient insulin and your liver synthesises fat for energy which produces acids called ketones)

  • Difficulty in the healing of wounds and cuts

  • Hypertension

  • Diabetic neuropathy

  • Vision loss

  • Renal disease or renal impairment

  • Cardiovascular disease or stroke

How are Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes treated?

It is very important for you to manage and treat your diabetes, irrespective of what type you have. This will help you avoid serious health complications.

Type 1 Diabetes: As there is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, you need to take insulin lifelong. Along with that, blood sugar levels must be checked regularly. These insulin shots can be taken by injection into the soft tissues several times a day, depending on the level of blood sugar in your body. Drugs like pramlintide can stop blood glucose levels from rising too far. You must keep a close watch on your sugar intake. Avoiding sugar and following a healthy and active lifestyle can help manage your Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes: It can be managed with a combination of oral medications and lifestyle modifications. Oral medications include the following.

  • Metformin which can reduce the amount of sugar produced by your liver.

  • SGLT2 inhibitors, DPP-4 inhibitors, and alpha-glucosidase inhibitors help reduce your blood glucose levels.

  • Meglitinides or sulfonylureas that help increase insulin levels in your body.

  • Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists can reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin levels.

  • Amylin analogs that reduce sugar levels in the blood by slowing digestion.

  • Using insulin wherever required.

Along with the medications, following a healthy diet, leading an active lifestyle, avoiding smoking, and following your doctor’s instructions can help you manage your Type 2 Diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.


Can Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes be cured?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. However, proper medications, maintaining a normal weight, following an active lifestyle, and having a healthy diet can help manage the condition to a great extent.

What is considered a healthy diet for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

A healthy diet for Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes includes plenty of whole grains, enough leafy green vegetables with some fruits, curbing sugar in the diet, and limiting alcohol.

Which among the Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes is more severe?

Type 1 Diabetes is often more critical than Type 2 Diabetes.


 Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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