What is the Difference Between Type 1 and 2 Diabetes?

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Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBSGeneral Physician, 6+ Years
Published On : 15-Jun-2022Read Time : 6 minutes
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Most of us are aware of Type 2 Diabetes. However, do you know that there are several other types of diabetes that are grouped under Diabetes mellitus? One such disorder is Type 1 Diabetes. Are there any differences between Type 1 and 2 Diabetes? Do they have any similarities? Read on to know more!

Contents:
  • What is Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
  • What are the Causes of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
  • What are the Symptoms of Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes?
  • How to Diagnose Type 1 Diabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes?
  • How are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes Treated?
  • What are the Complications of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
  • Can Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes be Prevented?
  • Summary: Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • FAQs

What are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition that affects your body's ability to produce or use a hormone called insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta (β) cells in your pancreas. It helps regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) present in your blood. Your body digests the food you eat and breaks it down into glucose. This glucose gets absorbed into your bloodstream and is transported to your cells. Insulin acts like a key to let glucose enter your cells. In diabetes, your body is unable to produce or use insulin, which leads to the glucose being unable to enter your cells, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the β-cells in your pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. This results in little to no insulin production in your body. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reports that around 5 to 10% of all cases of diabetes mellitus worldwide are cases of Type 1 Diabetes. It is a disorder that mainly affects young children (under 10 years of age), adolescents (from 10 to 19 years of age), and young adults (from 19 to 22 years of age), though it can sometimes also be diagnosed in older adults. Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by insulin resistance in your cells and tissues, i.e. your cells are not able to utilise the insulin produced by your pancreas, which results in the glucose remaining in your blood. According to the IDF, Type 2 Diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting to 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes mellitus around the world. It most commonly occurs in adults over the age of 45, though it is becoming more common in younger adults and children.

What are the Causes of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder with the exact cause being unknown. People with Type 1 Diabetes are born with the genetic susceptibility to develop the condition. The condition is then triggered due to certain immunological or environmental factors like exposure to chemicals, viruses, etc. Type 1 Diabetes can also be caused by injury to your pancreas.

Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused by poor lifestyle habits such as a lack of physical activity, being overweight or obese, an unhealthy diet, having metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess fat in the abdominal region), smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption. Having a family history of diabetes, being older than 45 years of age, or having health conditions like hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gestational diabetes, etc. can increase your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

What are the Symptoms of Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes?

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes have similar symptoms, as symptoms are generally caused by high blood glucose levels. Some of the most commonly observed symptoms in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are as follows

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Increased hunger and frequent eating (polyphagia)
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing wounds and sores
  • Frequent and recurring infections

Acanthosis nigricans (skin that is darkened and velvety to touch, commonly found in skin folds) is a symptom caused by insulin resistance. Thus, it is present in Type 2 Diabetes and absent in Type 1 Diabetes. 

The differences in terms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in terms of symptoms stem from the speed of onset and severity. In Type 1 Diabetes, the symptoms are severe and develop over a period of weeks or months. In Type 2 Diabetes, the symptoms are often mild and develop over a period of years.

How to Diagnose Type 1 Diabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes?

The tests for diagnosing high blood glucose levels in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are the same. 

They are:

  • Glycosylated Haemoglobin (HbA1c) Test
  • Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) Test 
  • Random Blood Sugar (RBS) Test 
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

You can read more about these tests here.

The diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is confirmed by performing the following tests:

  • C-peptide Test
  • Islet Autoantibodies Test

How are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes Treated?

Type 1 Diabetes has only one treatment, which is insulin injection. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits can also help you manage the condition effectively.

Type 2 Diabetes management includes oral hypoglycaemic medication, a well-balanced diabetic-friendly diet, regular physical activity, weight management, and other healthy lifestyle changes.

What are the Complications of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

The complications of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are similar, as they are caused by high blood glucose levels. Overtime, high blood glucose levels can damage your blood vessels leading to the following complications.

Macrovascular complications

  • Cardiovascular diseases (coronary heart disease, heart attack, etc.)
  • Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke, aneurysms, etc.)
  • Peripheral vascular disease (reduced blood flow to the limbs)

Microvascular complications

  • Diabetic retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the eye, leading to vision loss)
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage leading to pain, tingling, loss of sensation, etc.)
  • Diabetic nephropathy (damage to blood vessels in and around the kidneys, leading to renal failure)

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can also cause other short-term complications like hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) and diabetic ketoacidosis (dangerously high blood glucose and ketone levels).

Short-term complications are more commonly observed in Type 1 Diabetics. Type 1 Diabetics tend to develop complications earlier in their life as they develop their condition at a young age.

Can Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes at present, as the cause of the condition is still unknown.

Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented with healthy lifestyle habits like eating a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, weight control, stress management, quitting smoking and alcohol, etc.

Summary: Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

The following table summarises the key differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

ParameterType 1 DiabetesType 2 Diabetes
Disorder typeAutoimmuneMetabolic
Insulin productionAbsentPresent (sometimes insufficient)
Age of onsetChildren, adolescents, young adultsUsually over the age of 45 years
Risk factorsGenetic susceptibilityLifestyle habits, family history, metabolic syndrome, etc.
Onset of symptomsRapidGradual
TreatmentInsulinOral hypoglycaemics, insulin (in some cases)
PreventionNot possiblePossible

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are two of the most common types of diabetes mellitus and are characterised by high blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where your body destroys your pancreatic beta cells, resulting in little to no insulin production.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder wherein your cells become insulin resistant and are unable to use the insulin produced by your pancreas.
  • Type 1 Diabetics are born with the susceptibility to develop this condition which is triggered by immunological or environmental factors. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by poor lifestyle habits like lack of physical activity, being overweight or obese, unhealthy diet, etc.
  • Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes have similar symptoms, but the symptoms develop rapidly (over weeks or months) in Type 1 Diabetes, whereas they develop gradually (over years) in Type 2 Diabetes.
  • High blood sugar levels in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are diagnosed using the HbA1c test, fasting blood sugar test, random blood sugar test, and oral glucose tolerance test. Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis is confirmed using a C-peptide test and islet autoantibodies test.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is treated using insulin injections, and Type 2 Diabetes is treated using oral anti-hyperglycaemic medications. Healthy lifestyle changes are important for the management of both conditions.
  • Both short-term and long-term complications of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are similar, as complications are mostly caused by low or high blood sugar levels. However, short-term complications are more common in Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented. Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented with weight management, regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let's treat diabetes together.

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