Leah has been a health content creator for over 4 years. Her work helps make health information and healthcare more accessible. She is passionate about healthcare equality and hopes to help patients make informed health choices.
Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
February 4, 2021
Diabetes affects the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar. Diabetes can be classified as type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.
The most common types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. According to Mott’s Children’s Hospital, “In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively (type 2 diabetes)”. A lack of insulin or resistance to insulin leads to excess glucose, a sugar, in the blood and not enough in the body cells.
If not properly managed, both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications.
Read on to learn more about type 1 diabetes vs. type 2 diabetes, including causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.
Although both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the result of abnormal levels of glucose in the blood, they are different in many ways. We are going to consider the differences between these two types of diabetes under the following categories:
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by a complete lack of insulin. The lack of insulin is due to damage to the pancreas by the immune system.
Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, are ones in which the immune system mistakes the body’s healthy cells for foreign ones, and destroys them. After the immune system damages cells in the pancreas, they can no longer make insulin. Without insulin, the excess sugar remains in the blood, leading to type 1 diabetes.
After you eat, glucose in food enters the blood. Some of it passes out of the blood and into cells to be used as a source of energy.
The hormone insulin is responsible for converting excess glucose in the body to glycogen, a modified form of sugar that is easy to store.
When the body needs the sugar, another hormone converts the glycogen back to glucose. Using this process, excess glucose can be moved into and out of the bloodstream as needed. Excess glucose in the bloodstream can be very harmful.
Insulin is produced by an organ in the body called the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes is more common among children and there is a genetic predisposition in some families to have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is caused when the cells of the body do not respond to insulin as they should.
This might be due to the development of resistance to insulin action by the body cells or the pancreas not producing enough insulin. At times, it might be due to both. If the body develops insulin resistance, it fails to utilize the hormone effectively.
Researchers are not sure of the exact cause of type 2 diabetes, but inactivity and being overweight are contributing factors.
Type 2 diabetes is typically diagnosed later in life, though it is increasingly more common in children and is often made worse by obesity.
When comparing type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes in terms of symptoms, there are very few differences.
People with type 1 diabetes will likely show symptoms earlier than people with type 2 diabetes because they have a complete lack of insulin production and therefore much higher blood sugar. In many cases, people with type 2 diabetes may not show any symptoms until the disease becomes severe.
Apart from this, both types have similar symptoms. Symptoms of diabetes are from the elevated glucose in the bloodstream. Excessive glucose in the bloodstream pulls water into the blood. When this happens, hormones cause the increased water to be excreted in the urine.The most common symptom of diabetes is frequent urination. Urine may contain an excessive amount of sugar.
Other common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
If not properly treated, elevated blood sugar may damage blood vessels and the heart. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes may lead to heart failure, stroke, nerve damage and may significantly lower life expectancy, if not properly managed.
That said, with proper treatment and adherence to the care plan, people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can live long and healthy lives.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. Researchers are not sure why the immune system attacks healthy cells, but it seems to be due to a combination of genetic predisposition triggered by a viral infection.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age. Several risk factors have been identified, including the following:
To this day, medical experts have not discovered a cure for diabetes, though it can be properly managed. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are treated differently, as they have different causes.
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin at all,so treatment involves the administration of insulin to replace what would have been produced by the pancreas.
Typically insulin is given via several insulin shots throughout the day, though there are other options available such as insulin pumps and insulin pens.
With type 2 diabetes, the body cells fail to utilize insulin properly. Medication maybe given to
Anyone at risk for type 2 diabetes, but in whom the disease has not fully developed, can, in some cases, prevent or delay its onset by reducing body weight and adjusting diet.
This condition is called prediabetes.
No, type 2 diabetes cannot change into type 1 diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are a way to classify processes occuring in the body based on classic symptoms, risk factors and presentations.
It is possible for someone with type 2 diabetes to lose the ability to produce insulin in its entirety and therefore need insulin replacement.
If you have questions about diabetes, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with a doctor. A great place to start is with a primary care physician who can refer you to a specialist if needed.
An online appointment with a virtual doctor is an affordable and convenient way to get a professional consultation. EverydayDr is the sister site of PlushCare, a top virtual healthcare company. PlushCare connects thousands of patients with top virtual doctors for diabetes diagnosis and treatment. The doctor can answer any questions you have, assess your risk level and even order diabetes diagnostic testing if they see fit.
Book an appointment to talk with a top virtual doctor about type 1 and type 2 diabetes treatment.
The online doctor’s at PlushCare commonly prescribe treatment plans for both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, including:
Your doctor will help you manage your diabetes with frequent check-ins, medication monitoring, and nutrition advice.
Get started managing your diabetes online by booking an appointment with PlushCare here.
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