Type 1 & 2 Diabetes Differences

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are characterized by the body’s inability to properly store and use glucose – an important source of energy. Collected in blood, glucose is not able to reach blood cells, which leads to serious health complications. Though Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are quite similar, there are certain differences that need to be pointed out and discussed.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes usually appears in adolescents and children, even though it might occur in the elderly too. The immune system starts attacking the pancreatic beta cells so that they are not able to produce insulin – a hormone made in the pancreas.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, and in the majority of cases, it is hereditary. It is still unknown what might cause this type of diabetes, but one of the hypotheses is that childhood infections might play a significant role. Since the body is not able to produce insulin anymore, a person with Type 1 will need to get supplemental insulin for the rest of their life. The most common risk factors for this type include:


  • Family history of diabetes
  • Specific inborn genetic features affecting the body’s ability to produce and use insulin
  • Certain medical conditions, including hemochromatosis and cystic fibrosis
  • Exposure to viruses and infections in the early years, such as rubella or mumps.

Type 1 diabetes is not very common though: according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes usually affects older people, but there are also quite many cases among children. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas is still able to produce insulin but the body is not able to use it effectively. The cells the body start resisting the effects of insulin, and after a while, the body stops producing enough insulin.

As a result, instead of entering the cells, glucose starts building up in the blood. This condition is called insulin resistance. In most cases, it might take years until the first symptoms appear. The good thing about Type 2 diabetes is that it can be prevented with the help of a special diet, medications, or regular exercises. The risk factors for this type of diabetes include:

  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Following an unhealthy diet
  • Low physical activity
  • The use of certain medications, including anti-seizure drugs and medications for HIV.
  • Ethnicity. People of certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. They include Native American Indians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Black, and Native Alaskans.
  • The statistics say that there is about 90-05% of people with diabetes having Type 2.

Both types are serious diseases, causing such health complications as cardiovascular diseases, vision loss, kidney diseases, damages to organs and blood cells, and neurological disorders.

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