Understanding The Difference Between Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

Today, Diabetes is impacting people more than ever before, which is why building awareness and understanding the difference between type 1 vs type 2 Diabetes is critical to learning how to preventing and manage this disease.
According to the Diabetes Research Institute, the cases of people living with diabetes has increased to almost 50 percent and is affecting more than 422 million people.
Both Diabetes types, are chronic diseases, which affect the way your body regulates glucose (sugars) in exchange for energy.
Your body’s pancreas releases insulin, which allows the glucose to enter and be used as fuel for your body.

3 Common Diabetes Myths

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First, We want to address a few false myths that float around the internet today, before we get into the differences between both type 1 and type 2 Diabetes.

1. Most people who are overweight develop Diabetes

This is probably the most common myth today and the truth is that many people are at their average weight, or are elderly when diagnosed.

2. Fruit Is healthy, so eating a lot of it won’t put me at risk

Although fruit is healthier than candy and sodas, they contain more sugars than all the other “healthy” foods out there and should be taken in controlled amounts.

Find out what fruits and what types of food you should eat with your doctor.

3. I can’t eat sweets anymore!

Diabetes does not mean that you have to cut chocolates and those yummy treats completely out of your diet. 

Instead, high sugar content foods should be taken in moderation, while eating healthy meals.

Type 1 Diabetes

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes, is when the bodies immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that release a hormone called insulin.

Instead of the sugar (glucose) becoming stored and used as energy, it builds up in the bloodstream due to the lack of insulin production.

More than 9 Percent of people with Diabetes have type 1 which commonly develops in the early years of childhood or adolescence.

Diabetes Type 1 Symptoms

Below is a list of symptoms that can be experienced by individuals that are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes:

Frequent Urination

Your body normally re-absorbs sugars as it passes through your kidneys. The kidneys then pull more water because there is excess glucose build up in the blood, therefore increasing the amount of urine production. This is defined as Polyuria.

Increase Of Thirst

This goes hand in hand with frequent urination, because the more that is produced, the more you will have to go urinate. This causes you to constantly replace water in your body, therefore dehydrating you and making you more thirsty.

Increase Of Hunger

One of your body’s main functions is to convert food into glucose, which is energy which your body relies on.

Diabetes causes a lack of insulin that converts that food to energy, therefore resulting in more hunger.

Weight loss

Since the body cannot get its energy from food due to lack of Insulin, it starts looking for it elsewhere.

This can include your muscles and fat tissue, therefore causing you to lose weight, even without changing the way you eat.


Fatigue can be a symptom because the pancreas cannot convert sugars found in foods to energy.

Blurred Vision

Our eyes are designed to be hydrated in order to work properly.

Because of the constant change in bodily fluid levels caused by diabetes, the eye lenses can start to swell up, causing them to change shape and lose their ability to focus.

Diabetes is also linked to many eye problems which can cause vision loss, as well as vision impairment in later years, if untreated.


Because of less insulin created, your body will have less energy since it is not converting that glucose to fuel. This can often cause fatigue. 

Areas Of Darkened Skin

A more common symptom in individuals that are overweight.

Dark areas can be found on the back of the neck, under the breast and groin area. This usually begins to happen before diabetes is present and is often a clear indication of insulin resistance.

Type 1 Diabetes Causes

There are no clear cut causes of type 1 diabetes, but there are several risk factors that can lead to the disease.

Here is a list of the most probable causes for type 1 diabetes:


The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is increased by various genes, which provide instructions for creating proteins.

These genes play an important role in the immune system, by distinguishing proteins made by viruses and bacteria.

This can be identified, when the bodies immune system attacks its own tissues and organs by the pancreas.

According to the U.S National Library Of Medicine, 5 Percent of individuals with these gene variants develop type 1 diabetes, and approximately 40 Percent of that 5, are at risk for the condition.

Exposure To Viruses & Environment

Researchers are beginning to explore different viruses and environments that can lead to problems with the pancreas not producing insulin in the body.

There are no concrete answers as to what viruses can influence diabetes, but researchers found specific kinds of viruses called Enteroviruses, which can promote type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is similar to type 1 but is a more mild form of the disease.

With type 2, the body still produces insulin in order to convert glucose into energy but is not able to use it effectively.

Like type 1, your pancreas will attempt to produce insulin, and because there is a lack of it, glucose accumulates in your bloodstream.

How Many People Are Affected By Type 2 Diabetes?

Unlike Type 1, this form of diabetes is much more common. For every person with type 1 diabetes, 20 will have type 2. 

At least a third of the U.S alone will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime because of being overweight, and the lack of proper nutrition

Type 2 diabetes is more likely to be revealed later on, also can cause health complications if identified, and managed early on.

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

The signs of both types of diabetes are similar, however, type 2 diabetes has a few additional symptoms:

Yeast Infections

This can be found in both men and women, and since there is a high amount of sugar levels in the body, these infections can grow in any moist fold of skin.

Common areas where Yeast Infections can be present are:

  • In-Between Fingers
  • Underneath Breast Area
  • In Around Sex Organs
  • Slow-Healing Sores or Cuts

High quantity of sugar levels can affect blood flow and cause nerve damage over a long period of time, which prevents the body from healing.

Diabetes Complications And Risk Factors

Short Term Complications Of Diabetes

There are multiple immediate risks and complications that can arise due to severely elevated blood sugar levels, in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Two major immediate complications can include:

  1. Diabetic ketoacidosis, or hyperosmolar coma, which can be life-threatening. This occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin and can lead to symptoms such as:
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Frequent Urination
  • Abdominal Pain
  1. Significant low Blood sugar levels (Hypoglycaemia) can be a result due to too much insulin or glucose decreasing medication. This can lead to:
  • Trembling Or Shaking
  • Lack Of Concentration
  • Confusion
  • Loss Of Consciousness

Long Term Risks and Complications Of Diabetes

Long term complications are commonly related to damage in the blood vessels.

In most cases, the oversupply of glucose that is carried through the bloodstream can cause damage to nerves, causing numbness and tingling. 

This consistent damage can lead to the hardening of the arteries which can increase the risk of life threatening risks, including heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Type 2 Diabetes Causes

Both genetics and lifestyle can be influencing factors that may lead to type 2 diabetes. 

Unlike type 1, There is a much greater chance of poor lifestyle choices such as diet and lack of exercise affecting insulin levels later down the road which may lead to the condition.

Managing weight and preventing nutritional deficiency can also help regulate healthy blood sugar levels and function. 

Which Is Worse, Type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

The difference between type 1 vs type 2 diabetes when comparing the overall factors are not much different. Both cases include similar symptoms and require the same amount of attention and care.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented early on since the body can still produce small amounts of insulin. The amount of medication and treatment can be much less, depending on the person’s sugar levels, insulin levels, and overall health.

How To Diagnose Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Diagnosing whether you have diabetes, or which type you may have should always be determined by a doctor or health professional.

There are multiple ways of performing a diagnostic to determine whether or not you have diabetes:

Glycated Hemoglobin Test

Also known a the A1C test, is a special blood test that determines your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months.

It will measure the glucose that is carried by the red blood cells (hemoglobin), so the higher your blood sugar levels are, the more hemoglobin is attached.

An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on more than two tests will indicate that an individual has diabetes.

Random Blood Sugar Test

A blood sample may be taken regularly at any given time and can be repeated to confirm accuracy. This is important when making dietary changes, including the use of certain medication’s.

Fasting Blood Sugar Testing

This test is performed by taking a blood sample after an overnight fast.

An individual may be asked to not eat for 8-12 hours, so the blood is tested for its accuracy while determining sugar levels.

This test can also help reveal early signs of pre-diabetes and can help with determining what steps to take towards preventing risks in the future.

10 Ways You Can Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Preventing diabetes can be a challenge depending on many personal factors, including circumstance, mental health, a willingness to change lifestyle habits.

Here is a list of habits and changes that can potentially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes if implemented:

1.) Regular Doctor Checkups

2.) Quitting Smoking

3.) Eating a balanced & healthy diet

4.) Limiting or avoid processed foods

5.) Managing Your Weight

6.) Exercise Regularly

7.) Limit or avoid alcohol

8.) Getting proper sleep

9.) Preventing heart disease

10.) Avoid hazardous environments that can cause illness

Out of all these factors, nutrition is the most important. Ensuring you get sufficient amounts of nutrition from plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables will help promote cleaner blood, and break away build up along the artery walls. 

If you consume meal replacements or protein shakes, it is best to choose options with the lowest sugar. You can check out our review on the best protein shakes for diabetics for a list of safe products.

Staying committed and consistent by implementing all of these action steps is the biggest challenge when trying to prevent diabetes. 

How Is Type 1 and 2 Diabetes Treated?

As of today, there is no cure for any diabetes condition. The amount of insulin can be managed using special equipment that is recommended by a healthcare professional.

Certain tools can be used to monitor blood sugar levels when trying to manage glucose levels in the bloodstream. Monitoring this can help you manage and stabilize blood sugar levels to prevent risk.

Below are some types of equipment that can help manage glucose and insulin levels:

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

This device is used to measure glucose consistently. This system checks blood sugar levels with a small sensor and projects a result every 5 minutes.

Based on the sugar levels, it will inject the required amount of insulin automatically.

Insulin Shots

A common way of taking more insulin to break down food to energy is through an insulin syringe shot.

The majority of individuals who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes require a shot of insulin multiple times a day in order to regulate glucose levels.

This can be paired with a blood sugar monitor, to indicate when or how much insulin to take. 

Blood Sugar Monitoring

The most practical way of monitoring sugar levels is using a small pocket size device called a Lancet, which collects a blood sample, by pricking your finger.

Blood is then applied to a small strip, which is then read by the device.

Your blood sugar level is then displayed, which helps you to constantly regulate your doses of insulin or any other medication that is prescribed by a doctor.

When To Call A Doctor

Diabetes if untreated or avoided can lead to serious long term health problems such as kidney damage eye damage and increasing risk of heart attack or stroke, and should be avoided at all costs.

Seeing a doctor should be a priority if any of these symptoms were, or are currently experienced:

  • Pain, Numbness or Tingling (In the arms, legs, hands or feet)
  • Regular Skin Problems, or Infections
  • Frequent illness
  • Fatigue and a spontaneous increase of appetite.

Consult your doctor immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Still Don’t Know If Your Symptoms Create Enough Of A Case To See A Doctor? Take This Risk Test to help you.

Be advised, this test is not to diagnose any condition that you may have. Still, see your healthcare professional.