Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes: What is the Difference?

    Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects about 285 million people globally. Yes, shocking isn’t it? The numbers are huge but this is how common diabetes is. According to the World Health Organization, the numbers have been rising rapidly ever since 2014 and are rising to date. Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of the people while type 2 diabetes affects 95% of the people.

    The frequency of this chronic disease is more common in adults. Just like the numbers say, a majority of people suffering from diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. Earlier it was only the adults who were diagnosed with type 2, but these days even children are suffering from the same. Type 1 diabetes occurs suddenly but is seen in children.

    Even though diabetes is this common, do you know the difference between type 1 and type 2? Well, that’s what you are here for. I will help you understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes with the symptoms, causes, as well as possible treatments for both of them.


    Basic Difference Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which a body fails to produce enough insulin for controlling blood sugar levels. Earlier this type was known as Juvenile or Insulin-dependent diabetes. It occurs when there is damage to insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This type is likely to occur in the childhood and adolescence period, but it may also occur suddenly.

    Whereas, type 2 diabetes is a condition where cells resist the effect of insulin, which is called insulin resistance. It causes glucose to build up in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is also known as type 2 diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes. This type generally occurs as age increases, but recently, it is also diagnosed at younger ages.

    What Happens in Type 1 Diabetes?

    When we eat food, during the digestion process, it breaks down into simple forms in our body. The carbohydrates that we consume break down into glucose. Our body uses this glucose as a source of energy. For this, the glucose has to leave the blood and get into the cells. The insulin that is present in the blood sends signals to glucose to enter the cells. So, when there is a high glucose level, there is a rise in insulin levels as well.

    Now, for type 1 diabetes, the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas are damaged. As insulin production is put to a halt, there is nothing to send signals to the glucose so it enters the cells. In such a situation the insulin fails to enter the cells and accumulates in the bloodstream. Since glucose is in the bloodstream, our body can’t use it as a source of energy.

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    All these events cause the level of glucose in the blood to rise. Due to high glucose levels in the blood, it causes an excessive urge to urinate, damages tissues, and dehydrates our body. The problems that arise due to this condition are both short-term and long-term.

    What Happens in Type 2 Diabetes?

    Even in the case of type 2 diabetes, there is an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. However, the conditions that cause it and the after-effects are quite different. Here, the cells in our body resist how insulin works. They don’t let the glucose leave the bloodstream. Due to this insulin resistance, there is a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream.

    The pancreas work to produce insulin in correspondence to the blood sugar levels in our body. As the pancreas sense that there is a rise in glucose level (accumulation in the bloodstream), they start producing more insulin. At the same time, irrespective of insulin production, the resistance to insulin still prevails largely.

    There is a rise in insulin resistance over time. During this time, the pancreas keeps noticing the rise in blood sugar level and keeps producing more insulin to maintain the glucose level. There comes a point when the pancreas starts losing the ability to produce more insulin due to exhaustion. As a result, there is a rise in blood sugar levels and body problems come along.



    diabetes symptoms

    Symptoms for both types of diabetes are pretty much the same, the time of commencement or the severity may differ. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are often sudden and strong. On the other hand, the symptoms of type 2 may be so mild that one may even fail to notice it.

    One of the most prominent symptoms is dehydration and an excessive urge to urinate. This happens as high levels of glucose in the bloodstream cause the kidneys to produce more urine.

    Another common symptom is weight loss. The weight loss comes with no loss in appetite and this evidently happens due to dehydration. It even causes more hunger.

    There are also some other common symptoms like,

    • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Vomiting
    • Weakness
    • Dry Mouth
    • Blurry Vision
    • Sweating
    • Confusion
    • Crankiness
    • Trembling
    • Loss of Consciousness
    • Shakiness
    • Rapid Breathing

    If the condition is serious then the major chronic symptoms are,

    • Eye Damage (Retinopathy)
    • Atherosclerosis
    • Nerve Damage (Neuropathy)
    • Kidney Damage (Nephropathy)
    • Heart & Artery Problems
    • Sores & Blisters (On feet)
    • Hypoglycemia (Low blood sugar)
    • Infection Susceptibility


    Type 1 Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes commences when the immune system of a body starts attacking the body cells. It is an autoimmune disease. Why the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin or how it happens is unclear to date.

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    In some people, this disease is present in their genes itself. They may not necessarily suffer from type 1 diabetes but there is a probability for it to happen. The disease can be triggered due to anything like changes in the environment, viral infection, or even some change in the diet plan.

    The age group from 10 years to 18 years commonly suffers from type 1 diabetes. However, it may even occur in adults. The occurrence of this disease is pretty sudden and unclear.

    Type 2 Diabetes

    There may be many things that can cause type 2 diabetes. Starting with the genes in our body, there are certain types of DNA that affect insulin production in our bodies.

    Another most common reason for type 2 is obesity. If one has those extra pounds, they are at a high risk of suffering from this disease due to an increase in insulin resistance.

    The liver produces glucose in our body when we run on low sugar levels. When you eat something or hydrate yourself, the liver slows down glucose production. However, sometimes the liver fails to slow down the production of glucose. This causes blood sugar levels to rise and it is one of the causes.

    Problems with the beta cells that affect insulin production are another cause of type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage these cells causing more problems.


    Diabetes Diagnosis

    The tests that are carried out for the diagnosis of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same and they are as follows:

    • Haemoglobin A1C- This test helps to measure the average glucose level in the blood over a period of about the last three months. A person is said to be suffering from diabetes if their Haemoglobin A1C level is either 6.5 percent or more than that.
    • FPG (Fasting Plasma Glucose) Test- For this test, the blood is taken on an empty stomach after an overnight fast. A person is diagnosed with diabetes if his or her fasting glucose level is equal to or higher than 126 mg/dL. The normal range lies between 70 mg/dL to 100 mg/dL.
    • RPG (Random Blood Glucose) Test- If a blood sugar level is equal to or more than 200 mg/dL, it is enough to diagnose diabetes.
    • OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test)- This test measures the blood sugar levels following the consumption of 75 g glucose. A blood sugar level equal to or more than 200 mg/dL indicates diabetes.


    Type 1 Diabetes

    As the apparent cause of type 1 diabetes is not clear itself, there is no evident way that can prevent this disease. However, if one has a Vitam D deficiency, they can work on it as the deficiency increases the risk of diabetes.

    In case there is diabetes in family genes, one can try to prevent it in an infant by avoiding cow’s milk. This is merely a preventive measure that one can carry out but there is no evidence of this preventing the disease.

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    Type 2 Diabetes

    Unlike type 1, there are a number of ways that can help prevent type 2 diabetes. The preventive measures are nothing but adopting a healthier lifestyle and they are as follows,

    • Maintain an ideal body weight or drop weight if there are signs of obesity as those extra pounds can increase the risk of diabetes.
    • Exercising and walking on a regular basis helps to reduce the insulin resistance that prevails in the body.
    • Maintain ideal blood pressure and cholesterol in the body as these are some of the risking factors.
    • Quit smoking as it adds up to the risk of atherosclerosis and causes more complications in the condition.
    • Lastly, consuming a healthy diet that brings a balance to the body.


    Type 1 Diabetes

    People suffering from type 1 diabetes require a dose of insulin regularly in order to compensate for the insulin that the body is unable to produce. Usually, about 3 to 4 injections of insulin are required in a day for most diabetes patients.

    It is vital that the insulin doses are taken regularly with adequate diet and exercise. If there is a disturbance or unbalance in the insulin dose and the diet, problems like ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia may develop which are dangerous to health.

    Regular exercising and maintaining body weight are necessary to keep control over the excessive glucose that builds up in the body.

    One should rush to a doctor if they notice a sudden increase in any of the symptoms of the disease.

    Diabetes treatment

    Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes is generally treatable with healthy practices like,

    • Losing about 5 to 7 percent of body weight to avoid obesity and maintain an ideal blood sugar level.
    • Consuming a healthy diet by cutting down on calories, avoiding carbs and sweets, increasing the consumption of fiber, and adding more veggies and fruits.
    • Being active and exercising regularly to maintain the blood sugar level.
    • Keeping an eye on the blood sugar level and carrying out the tests depending on the severity of the condition.

    However, as this disease develops when the pancreas exhausts, some people require doses of insulin to control their sugar levels. The doses of insulin for type 2 highly depend on the intensity of the conditions.

    If one notices any sudden fluctuations in blood sugar levels, excess dehydration, or diarrhea, it is time to visit the doctor.


    Summarizing Both Types In a Table

    Type 1 Type 2
    It is an autoimmune disease. It is a chronic disease.
    The cause of type 1 diabetes is unclear and can occur suddenly. There are many causes like obesity, genes, liver problems, or more.
    It is commonly seen in children and young adults. It is commonly diagnosed with growing age.
    Cells in the pancreas are unable to produce insulin. Body cells develop insulin resistance.
    Treatment involves insulin doses on regular basis. Treatment can be done by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
    Prevention is not yet evident. Prevention is possible.



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