Understanding the Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both characterized by the body’s inability to use glucose for energy. However, there are a few key differences between the two regarding their causes and management. 

Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and adolescents whose immune system attacks the beta cells in their pancreas. When these cells become damaged, you can no longer produce insulin, and instead of your body using glucose for energy, the glucose stays in your bloodstream. 

Type 2 diabetes can occur in people of all ages, and it’s characterized by insulin resistance. In this case, the pancreas does produce insulin, but the insulin isn’t effective at pushing the glucose in the cells. 

If you or a loved one has diabetes, you may benefit from knowing the differences between the two types. To help you out, we asked our specialists at First Care Medical Clinic to share more about the causes, risk factors, and management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Prevention and risk factors

Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable. Researchers are still unsure of what causes the immune system to attack the beta cells in the pancreas.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is strongly correlated with the following: a diet high in processed foods and sugar, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and smoking. Certain conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the CDC, type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 95% of the diabetes cases

You may be able to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes by following a healthy diet, staying active, quitting cigarettes, and managing stress. 

Symptoms 

With type 1 diabetes, symptoms develop abruptly. Over the course of a few weeks, you may experience blurry vision, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, increased urination, and wounds that won’t heal. 

Type 1 diabetes also requires urgent treatment because it can quickly advance into ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition in which the absence of insulin causes your body to create high levels of ketones.

The symptoms in type 2 diabetes often overlap with the symptoms in type 1 diabetes (e.g., increased thirst, fatigue, blurry vision, etc.), but they take years to develop.

Many Americans live with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes without knowing they have it. By the time noticeable symptoms manifest, the disease is usually advanced. 

Treatment and long-term outcomes 

Both types of diabetes are incurable, but you may be able to halt the progression of type 2 diabetes with the right dietary interventions and medications. 

Type 1 diabetics can’t produce insulin, so insulin treatment is a must. Medications for glucose management may also be recommended. 

In the past, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes meant a shorter lifespan. Today, however, you can increase your life expectancy and avoid complications by following the proper regimen.

Learn more about how you can manage your diabetes

Diabetes is a battle that lasts a lifetime, but with the right tools, you can enjoy a normal life, free of complications and pain. 


Contact us to schedule an appointment to assess your risk for complications, and get expert advice on managing your condition.

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