The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

While most people are aware that there are two types of diabetes, fewer are familiar with the differences between them. Both types have something in common: they both deal with insulin or rather the body’s management of insulin. However, they are far from the same condition.

Here’s what you need to know about both types of diabetes and the differences between them.

What Happens When You Get Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic and lifelong disease that can lead to further complications if not managed properly. In both types of diabetes, your body’s blood sugar levels become too high due to problems with insulin.
Insulin is an important hormone secreted by the pancreas as it is a fundamental part of how your body manages sugar, or glucose. Insulin allows glucose to enter your blood cells so it can be broken down into energy.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (sometimes called juvenile diabetes) is a genetic disorder where the body can’t produce the necessary insulin to help the body regulate glucose. Their immune systems attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, so the body is unable to provide insulin on its own.

Type 1 diabetes affects around 1.6 million Americans, of which 200,000 are younger than 20. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition that can be caused by genetics, environmental factors, viruses, or a combination of all of these. Although people can develop type 1 diabetes at any point in their life, the average age of diagnosis is around 13 years old.

Type 2 Diabetes

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is usually health or lifestyle-related and develops over time. Type 2 diabetes is far more prevalent in the U.S. than type 1, with over 90% of people with diabetes having it.

Type 2 diabetes also faces a problem with insulin—the body does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced isn’t effective enough to fulfill its function (insulin resistance). A poor lifestyle with a lack of diet and exercise can result in the pancreas being unable to keep up with the amount of insulin required to balance the high blood sugar levels. Therefore, unlike type 1, it can be prevented.


Type 1 and type 2 diabetes share some symptoms—excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision, to name a few. However, the symptoms for type 1 diabetes appear much sooner, while it can be easy to even completely miss the symptoms for type 2.

Diabetes Management

Treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes tends to overlap; however, they both require consistent management. The major difference is that type 1 diabetes requires people to take insulin—since their bodies can’t generate it themselves—either through injections or an insulin pump.

Other ways to manage diabetes include:

Living with diabetes can be difficult, but getting the help you need can make it a lot easier. At Helping Diabetics USA, we work to ensure that people with diabetes have access to the medication and resources they need. Reach out to us today to get started!

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