Diabetes is a very tricky disease. You might know that it is highly dangerous, but do you know that there are different types of diabetes? And what about the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? Let us check in detail.

What Is Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

What is type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Everybody knows what diabetes is. It is a specific medical condition when the sugar level in the blood rises too high. But not everybody knows that there are different types of diabetes. We distinguish two main types of the disease:

  • Type 1 diabetes;
  • Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes type 1 and diabetes of 2nd type are caused by different factors and are managed in different ways.

Diabetes type 1:

  • It is detected at an early age;
  • It cannot be prevented at all;
  • It cannot be cured, but the development of complications can be controlled;
  • Patients can develop type 2 diabetes additionally;
  • It is always insulin-dependent.

Diabetes type 2:

  • It can be diagnosed at any age, but the majority of patients are adults;
  • It can be controlled by changing lifestyle and eating habits at the early stages of the disease;
  • It can be prevented in most cases;
  • It cannot be cured but can be controlled in a way that a patient might not feel the disease at all;
  • Patients cannot develop type 1 diabetes;
  • It is not always insulin-dependent. Additional insulin intake might be needed only at more severe stages.

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Scientists have not yet determined why this diabetes type develops. Some researchers believe it might be connected with genetic anomalies, while others believe that some environmental factors can cause it, too.

When a person has type 1 diabetes, it means that the body of the person doesn’t produce insulin at all. It happens because the immune system of the person perceives the insulin-producing cells as malicious ones, attacks and destroys them.

This disease manifests as a rule from early childhood. It can develop very fast, and the patient always needs to take insulin to keep the sugar level within the norm.

Type 2

Diabetes of type 2 means that the person’s body doesn’t react to insulin as it shall, and in the end, not enough insulin might be produced.

Scientists aren’t sure why some people might develop type 2 diabetes, while others don’t do it even if they might belong to those who are at risk. In this case, we don’t speak about genetic disease, though. Most scientists connect the disease to a wrong lifestyle. Overweight people are more prone to diabetes type 2 development. This condition is more common to adults rather than kids. However, there might be some more reasons why some people get sick while others don’t.

What Is the Difference Between Diabetes Types 1 and 2

Let us arrange the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes in the table to show the details clearly.

  Type 1 diabetes Type 2 diabetes
Causes Genetic, environmental factors (exposure to viruses, etc.) Lifestyle (obesity, improper nutrition)
Symptoms Feeling thirsty, fatigue, muscle bulk loss, slowly healing wounds, blurry vision, thrush
Patients’ age Any age, including small kids Mostly adults and elderly people
Treatment/Control Insulin intake, cannot be cured Lifestyle change, sport, healthy food, insulin intake at later stages

What Are the Symptoms

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes symptoms

Type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes patients might have the same symptoms. Here, there is no difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Such symptoms are called general and are the following:

  • Feeling of constant tiredness, fatigue;
  • Weight loss, muscle bulk loss;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Frequent thrush, itching on mucous membranes;
  • Slowly healing cuts, wounds, scratches;
  • More frequent urination.

If you have noticed one or more of these symptoms, it is highly recommended to consult a GP and to make tests for diabetes.

What’s Common

If you compare type 1 diabetes vs. type 2 diabetes, you will see that symptoms are common. They are determined by the fact that the body either doesn’t produce insulin, doesn’t react to it as it shall, or doesn’t produce it sufficiently.

What’s Different

The main difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes is in its cause. Patients with diabetes type 1 don’t produce insulin at all. Thus, they have to take insulin life-long. This diabetes type develops within a very short period. Sometimes, several days are enough for the symptoms to manifest. This disease typically develops in kids but also can develop in adults. This type is called insulin-dependent diabetes.

The body of a patient with diabetes 2 type produces insulin but cannot use it as it shall do. Thus, the patient shall take medicines to compensate for its insufficient use. At the early stages, patients can take metformin. With time, its doses might increase, it might be combined with other preparations, or it can be replaced by other medications.

When the body of the patient might become resistant to other medications insulin might be prescribed.

Patients with the second diabetes type can influence the disease course by being more active, consuming healthier food.

Thus, in short: what are type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that cannot be reversed or cured. The patient’s body cannot produce insulin. Thus, the patient has to take it all life long. This diabetes type can be accompanied by diabetes type 2, which worsens the patient’s condition immensely.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease when the patient’s body either cannot use insulin properly or doesn’t have enough of it. In many cases, patients aren’t dependent on insulin. The condition is controlled by other medicines or their combinations. Type 2 diabetes cannot turn into type 1. This condition can be controlled properly by adjusting the lifestyle and changing eating habits.

Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors

One more difference between type 1 and diabetes type 2 is the risk factors.

In the first case, specific risk factors that might boost the possibility of diabetes type 1 development aren’t determined. Researchers believe those might be genetic diseases, exposure to unfavorable environmental conditions, and similar. However, the causes of this diabetes type, which is also called juvenile, are not determined.

In the second case, the main risk factors are the following:

  • Lifestyle: the more inactive a person is, the more likely he/she is to develop the disease;
  • Age: the older the person is, the more he/she is prone to develop the disease;
  • Race/ethnicity: Mexican Americans, Alaskan and American natives are more prone to the development of the disease than other ethnicities. Black and Hispanic races are more likely to develop diabetes than other races, say, Asians or Non-Hispanic whites;
  • Specific diseases.

How to Diagnose Them

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are diagnosed in the same way. If you suspect that you might have diabetes, you need to do the A1C (glycated hemoglobin) test. This test is used to determine whether the blood sugar level of the patient is within the norm. It is sufficient to take a blood sample from your finger for the test. In some cases, a doctor might need to draw blood from the vein.

A high sugar level in the blood doesn’t mean that you have diabetes. You still might improve the condition by being more active, eating healthier food if we speak about diabetes type 2.

However, a sugar level of 6.5% and more indicates that you have diabetes.

While these tests just indicate that the sugar level is higher than normal, a patient might need to take additional tests to diagnose diabetes of type 1. To detect that the patient has this diabetes type, a test for the presence of antibodies shall be taken (anti-islet cell, anti-glutamic, anti-insulin antibodies). If they are detected, it means that the patient has type 1 diabetes.

Which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes? We would say that Type 1 diabetes is worse due to several reasons. Let us have a look at the table and compare some data.

  Type 1 diabetes Type 2 diabetes
Patient age Early age Elderly age
Can it be prevented? No Yes
Can it be cured? No No
Insulin dependent Yes Not always
Can the patient additionally get the other diabetes type? Yes No
The speed of disease development Very fast Long, can last years
Easiness of diagnosis Additional tests (for antibodies) are needed Relatively easy to diagnose

However, while you can make a conclusion that type 1 diabetes is more severe and much worse than type 2, we shall remind you that both diseases cannot be treated. Once diagnosed, a patient will need to keep diabetes under control for a lifetime. While diabetes type 2 can be controlled easier and even reversed, it is a disease that stays forever.

We have checked how to diagnose type 1 diabetes vs. type 2 but, we also need to mention that people might be living with diabetes type 2 for a long period of time without noticing anything abnormal. This is the danger of the disease. At earlier stages, it is possible to normalize the sugar level in the blood by adapting to a healthier lifestyle. But most people discover that they are sick when they already need medicines to keep the condition under control.

Basic Treatments for Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

In the case of type 1 diabetes, insulin isn’t produced at all. Thus, there is no such substance in the blood. The body cannot use it to take glucose from the bloodstream to produce energy.

Thus, insulin shall be taken daily to compensate for its absence.

Insulin can be of different types.

  • Long-acting (basal, background) insulin: patients take it to keep the sugar level in the blood stable at any time, especially between meals and while sleeping.
  • Fast-acting (bolus, meal-time) insulin: patients take it to lower the sugar level in the blood from the intake of food or drinks. This insulin type is taken immediately before eating or drinking.

In the case of type 2 diabetes, insulin is produced. But the problem is that the body cannot use it properly. Another option might be that the body doesn’t produce enough insulin for its needs.

At earlier stages, a person can improve the disease course by being more physically active, eating healthier products. When it is impossible to improve the condition naturally, medications are prescribed.

Can It Be Cured?

Both diabetes types are conditions that cannot be cured. They are life-long.

How to Manage It?

The management ways of diabetes type 1 and diabetes 2 type differ. These diabetes types, even though they have the same name, are different diseases. Their causes and, thus, management ways are different.

If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he/she will have to take insulin for the rest of their life. Usually, background insulin is taken to manage the sugar level between meals and while sleeping, and meal-time insulin is taken to control the sugar level when eating or drinking.

In case the person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they might be more flexible when it comes to the disease management ways. The very first measure that has to be taken is a healthier lifestyle. It is needed to adopt healthy eating habits. If the disease has just started manifesting, it might help keep it under control.

At later stages, medications might be needed. Usually, the treatment starts with metformin. It helps the body use the available insulin more efficiently.

Diabetes tends to worsen over time. Thus, it is necessary to perform constant checks to ensure the medicine is sufficient to control the disease. When you see that the medicine doesn’t work, consult the GP. Be ready that the medication dosage might be increased to control the disease.

At later stages, a combination of different preparations might be needed. The medicines and their dosages depend on each individual case.

Only when the disease becomes grave indeed, insulin treatment might be required. It happens at the stages when the body isn’t able to satisfy its basic needs in insulin, and thus, an external insulin source is needed.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: Can It Be Prevented?

As we have already mentioned, diabetes is a life-long condition. Once you are diagnosed with it, you can manage it, keep it under control. But you cannot be cured.

But maybe diabetes can be prevented?

Once more, it all depends on the diabetes type.

Diabetes type 1 is a kind of autoimmune disease. Its causes are not determined clearly yet. There are just suggestions that it might be caused by genetic diseases or due to exposure to some unfavorable environmental factors.
It is impossible to prevent diabetes type 1, at least, at the moment. Though you can improve your condition by:

  • Controlling your body weight;
  • Eating healthy food;
  • Collaborating with your doctor to react on time to the changes that are needed to be implemented in your medication plan or lifestyle.

With these measures, you can keep the sugar level in the blood close to normal and prevent the development of complications. The disease, though, cannot be prevented.

The situation is pretty different with diabetes type 2. There are specific measures to be taken if you want to avoid or mitigate the risks of getting diabetes. These are things you can do to prevent diabetes:

  • Have an active lifestyle, do sports;
  • Eat healthy food, consume fewer carbohydrates, sugars;
  • Control your body weight;
  • Be more careful about your health if you are above 45.

When the disease has already been diagnosed, you can control the sugar level and, thus, keep your body in a proper condition and avoid the development of complications.

Can You Have Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Can you have type 1 and type 2 diabetes? It is a pity, but yes, one can have double diabetes. It happens in rare cases that a patient with type 1 diabetes develops insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is typical to patients with type 2 diabetes.

The most common way to develop double diabetes is when a patient with type 1 diabetes isn’t physically active enough, develops obesity, consumes food rich in sugars, carbohydrates, fats, has to use medicines that are known to provoke diabetes type 2 (preparations to manage HIV, AIDS, etc.). In other words, if a patient has diabetes type 1, he/she isn’t protected from diabetes type 2.

The resistance to insulin in such cases shall be controlled by medicines used to manage diabetes type 2. Additionally, the person is recommended to adopt a healthy lifestyle to avoid complications and be able to keep the disease under control.

Here, one more condition shall be mentioned. It is called LADA, or 1.5 type diabetes.

Sometimes, it happens that a person has all the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Most doctors would also diagnose the person with the mentioned condition type due to common reasons such as:

  • Age (LADA usually manifests in adults);
  • Initial symptoms (the same as in the case of type 2 diabetes: thirst, high blood sugar, issues of vision, and similar);
  • The body produces some insulin, which is not common for patients with diabetes of type 1;
  • At the initial stages, treatment methods used for patients with type 2 work properly.

However, with time, LADA patients get worse. It happens because of a simple reason: LADA is not diabetes type 2. It is an autoimmune disease, called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA is the abbreviation).

In this aspect, LADA is closed to diabetes type 1 than to the second type. The causes of this disease aren’t known. Researchers suspect that some genetic issues might cause this condition. Diagnosing this condition is difficult because it is too similar to type 2 diabetes. Doctors start suspecting that it might be something else only when a patient stops responding to medications used for the control of type 2 diabetes.

The main difference between LADA and type 2 diabetes is that LADA cannot be reversed or improved with time. It worsens, and with time, insulin treatment will be needed, while a patient diagnosed with diabetes type 2 can control or even reverse the disease by diet, healthy lifestyle, and might never need to use insulin.

Conclusion

Diabetes is a very common disease. Around 10% of the world population have diabetes, and among them, around 80% have diabetes of type 2.

For both diabetes types, early diagnostics is crucial to keep the disease under control. For patients with type 1 diabetes, early measures are important to keep the development of heavy symptoms under control and to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. For patients with type 2 diabetes, it is important to diagnose the disease and to take measures to control it in order to prevent the development of heavy symptoms and, in some cases, to improve the condition of a patient significantly.

It is important to remember that these are different diseases.

Type 1 diabetes develops as a result of genetic problems or exposure to unfavorable environmental factors. It cannot be prevented or cured. Patients with this disease type can only be only in a proper condition with the help of medicine accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and proper food. This diabetes type always requires treatment with insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is, in most cases, the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, bad nutritional habits, genetic factors also shall be considered. If the disease is diagnosed and controlled properly, a patient might never need insulin. The condition can be controlled to some extent with healthy eating habits and doing sports.

In both cases, early diagnostics is crucial. We recommend checking the level of sugar in blood constantly. If high sugar levels are detected, it is recommended to make additional tests to determine whether this is not type 1 diabetes (even though it happens rarely, but it can be detected in older age, too) or LADA. In any case, patients shall not forget about living healthy to avoid complications.