Child and woman having fun playing in a park
Child and woman having fun playing in a park
Child and woman having fun playing in a park

Difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

For many people, it can get confusing to differentiate between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. While they may sound similar, both have integral differences, in the pathophysiology symptoms experienced and the course of action for treatment.

To help understand the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes a bit better, this article has listed the distinction between them so that you can live a healthier and more informed life. To begin, the overarching term ‘diabetes’ refers to a chronic disease relating to your glucose or sugar levels and how they acted naturally.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or doesn’t produce insulin at all. Insulin is a vital hormone that helps glucose enter cells so that cells receive food to generate energy1 without insulin, glucose can’t get into cells and as a result, there is sugar build-up in the bloodstream. High sugar levels are a situation that must be avoided as it causes damage to the body and results in symptoms and complications of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed early or during childhood, but it can develop at any age.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes2 and is a disease when your body doesn’t use insulin properly, resulting in unusual blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes may be triggered by general inactivity and excessive weight.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

If not managed, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can lead to symptoms2 such as:

  • Urinating frequently
  • Feeling very thirsty and drinking a lot
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Feeling very fatigued
  • Experiencing blurry vision
  • Getting cuts or sores that don’t heal properly
  • Irritability, mood changes, and unintentional weight loss
  • Numbness and tingling in their hands or feet

What are some risk factors for types 1 and type 2 diabetes?

While there are no clear causes for diabetes that can be completely avoided or pinpointed, there are several risk factors for diabetes that make some people more at risk than others. This includes the following:

  1. Genes – Some people have specific genes that make them more prone to diabetes, specifically, type 1 diabetes.
  2. Family’s Medical History – If you have close family, such as parents or siblings, with diabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing it too.
  3. Age – While a person can be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at any age, it is usually more common in teens and children. Type 2 usually develops at a later age.
  4. Excess Weight – People who carry a significant amount of belly fat, have excess weight, are obese, and are generally physically inactive are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. Pre-diabetes – Those who are pre-diabetic are obviously at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Prediabetes means you have a higher than normal blood sugar level. It's not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.

While diabetes treatment is varied and may include insulin injections, pumps, or other such measures of getting insulin into the body, it is important to monitor your glucose levels to stay on top of your diabetes. There is no permanent cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes but one can switch to Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) to monitor their glucose levels 24 hour a day when wearing the sensor. It lets you keep a closer eye on glucose trends.

References: 1. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/insulin/ (Last accessed on 9/9/22) 2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/type-2-diabetes (Last accessed on 9/9/22) 3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes (Last accessed on 9/9/22)

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The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive/for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information