What’s the Difference Between Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

Difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes Diabetes
October 13, 2022
6 minutes Read
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According to the CDC, about one in every ten Americans has diabetes. To put that in perspective, that’s over 37 million people. 

About 90-95 percent of these individuals have type 2 diabetes, while the others have type 1. 

But what is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Essentially, type 1 diabetes vs type 2 comes down to the cause. 

Type 1 diabetes is believed to happen when the body attacks insulin-making cells. While type 2 is caused when someone’s body doesn’t make any, or enough, insulin—or doesn’t use it correctly.

Though type 1 vs type 2 diabetes sounds similar, they aren’t the same and have unique reasons for their development.

Here’s a snapshot of some key areas where these two kinds of diabetes differ:

  • Type 1 diabetes is widely thought to be an autoimmune reaction. It develops early in life and is often diagnosed between four and 14. But it can also be diagnosed later in life. 
  • Type 2 diabetes is linked to lifestyle factors, such as inactivity or obesity. It takes years to develop, and it’s usually diagnosed after 45. But according to the CDC, more kids, teens, and young adults are also developing it. 

As we’ll touch on later, both ailments share common symptoms. But, each requires unique approaches to managing type 2 vs type 1 diabetes.

Furthermore, the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be seen in the lingo:

  1. Type 1 diabetes is also known as T1D or IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus). 
  2. Type 2 diabetes is also known as T2D. But, sometimes, it’s also referred to as NIDDM (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus). 

What causes type 1 diabetes?

Our immune systems are incredibly crucial to our well-being. They’re responsible for combating foreign invaders, like harmful bacteria and viruses. Eating nutrient-rich foods, staying hydrated, and sleeping properly support our hard-working natural defense system.

However, a malfunction can sometimes occur, which is where type 1 diabetes vs type 2 comes in. 

Type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune disease. This is when your immune system mistakenly believes that certain body cells are invaders, so it attacks them. 

In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the beta cells, which are meant to produce insulin. 

A hormone created in the pancreas, insulin is essential to life because it helps glucose enter your body’s cells to be used as energy. 

Without insulin or very little of it, your blood sugar levels increase because the glucose isn’t leaving your bloodstream. 

Research hasn’t yet shown why someone’s body would attack their insulin-producing cells. But researchers believe genetics or environmental factors could be responsible. 

Main takeaway: Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body eradicates the cells responsible for insulin production. Therefore, there’s no insulin to move glucose (blood sugar) out of the blood. Because of spiked glucose levels, symptoms and complications occur. 

When it comes to type 1 vs type 2 diabetes, remember that T1D isn’t impacted by lifestyle. Rather, genetics or environmental factors are believed to be responsible. 

What causes type 2 diabetes?

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body struggles with high blood sugar levels. This increased glucose in the bloodstream occurs because the cells aren’t responding normally to insulin, which is called insulin resistance. 

In other words, glucose cannot enter the cells to be used as energy, so it stays in the bloodstream. 

The pancreas makes more insulin to get the body’s cells to respond. However, eventually, the pancreas gets tired and can’t keep up with enough insulin production. 

Researchers are unsure why some individuals become insulin resistant while others don’t. One thing remains consistent, though, one’s lifestyle seems to play a significant role.

How does diabetes affect you?

Regardless of type 2 vs type 1 diabetes, one thing is consistent. There’s too much glucose in the bloodstream (until managed or treated).

High blood glucose levels affect almost every part of your body, making you more prone to infections, causing difficulties seeing, and increasing your chance of cardiovascular disease. 

Symptoms for type 1 and type 2 diabetes: 

The symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 are physically similar. For instance, both can cause mood changes, irritability, and unintentional weight loss. 

But the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes lies in how the symptoms appear. 

Type 1 symptoms are quicker to appear, making them more difficult to overlook. Recognizing signs faster is better because DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) can occur if left untreated.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be easier to miss. It sometimes goes undetected because type 2 develops more slowly (especially in its early stages). 

Because it’s more challenging to spot symptoms, knowing if you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes is crucial. 

Sadly, some people can have diabetes without knowing it, which can go on for up to ten years. 

That said, type 2 vs type 1 diabetes have some commonalities, so let’s get into it. 

Some common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Sores or cuts that don’t heal properly 
  • Numbness in feet 
  • Numbness in hands

Risk Factors for type 1 and type 2 diabetes: 

Researchers don’t know what causes either type of diabetes. But they reveal that there are some risk factors associated. Therefore, we can recognize certain indicators that may increase someone’s chance of getting diabetes. While we know these risk factors exist, they’re not set in stone. 

Your chances of having type 1 diabetes can be increased depending on the following risk factors:

  • Family history: Those with a sibling or parent with type 1 diabetes may develop it themselves. 
  • Age: Type 1 diabetes is most common among kids and adolescents; however, it can develop later. 

Your chances of having type 2 diabetes can be increased depending on the following risk factors:

  • Having prediabetes. 
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Aren’t physically active. 
  • Having belly fat. 
  • Being over 45. 
  • Having certain ethnic backgrounds. 
  • Family history.

Treatment for type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin regularly and check their blood sugar levels often. Some take insulin injections into their arm, buttocks, or stomach throughout the day. Others use insulin pumps that supply steady amounts of insulin to the body. 

Also, testing for blood sugar levels is an important part of type 1 diabetes management. 

On the other hand, a person with type 2 diabetes could manage it with prescribed medicine, so the body effectively uses insulin. Diet, exercise, and monitoring blood sugar levels are also crucial management tools. 

Prevention and cure for type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

While research is ongoing, there’s no cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Nor is there a way to prevent type 1 diabetes. 

However, evidence suggests that some individuals with type 2 can lose weight, follow a low-calorie diet, or have surgery to cause remission. 

Remission isn’t the case for everyone and should only be done under the close care of a healthcare provider. 

Can type 2 diabetes be prevented?

According to the CDC, yes, preventing type 2 diabetes is possible

Because type 2 diabetes has clearer risk factors, people can more quickly recognize if they’re likely to get it. If you find that you could be at risk of becoming diabetic, it’s worth taking preventative measures.

We suggest working with a certified Ravkoo Health and Wellness coach to get started. What can you expect when you work with a Ravkoo Coach for type 2 diabetes prevention? 

Firstly, download the Ravkoo Health App to access remote doctor’s consultations and fast prescription delivery. 

Secondly, use the Ravkoo Lifestyle module to make an online appointment with a Health and Wellness Coach for Diabetes Education. 

Your Ravkoo Health and Wellness Coach will:

  1. Help you identify risk factors. 
  2. Explain diabetes and its complications. 
  3. Do a specific evaluation to assess how likely you are to develop diabetes. 
  4. Offer guidance towards healthier choices (diet and exercise).
  5. Be available should you need to book another consultation.

The best part of working with a Ravkoo Health and Wellness Coach is that you’re supported from the comfort of your home! 

Main takeaway: What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? Below is a quick guide to understanding how these health issues differ. 

 Insulin and diabetes type 1 vs type 2:

  • Type 1 occurs when the body attacks the cells in your pancreas, meaning it doesn’t make insulin. 
  • Type 2 occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin the body makes doesn’t work correctly.
 Risk factors and symptoms for diabetes type 1 vs type 2:
  • At this time, researchers don’t know what causes type 1. And symptoms appear more quickly.
  • With type 2, we don’t know everything there’s to know; however, it’s believed that weight and ethnicity could put someone more at risk. Also, symptoms take longer to appear. 
Management & prevention for diabetes type 1 vs type 2: 
  • Type 1 is treated by taking insulin daily to manage blood sugar levels, and there is no cure.  
  • Type 2 can be managed in several ways, such as exercise, diet, medication, and sometimes, prescribed insulin. While we don’t have a cure, there’s some evidence to show that type 2 can be put in remission or prevented. 

Finally, diabetes is a serious condition, so even if symptoms seem minor, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Speak to a doctor about testing! 

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