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Difference between Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic, lifelong metabolic disorder in which our body is not able to store and use sugar or glucose as a fuel. Our body breaks down the food into special sugars. Our body cells need insulin, which is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas, to use sugars or glucose as a fuel. Due to diabetes, either our body does not produce enough insulin or it cannot use the insulin produced in the body or a combination of both.

The two most common types of diabetes are type 1diabetes and type 2diabetes. Both are characterized by higher blood sugar levels and affect the way our body stores and uses glucose as a fuel but their cause, progression and treatment are different. Let us see how they differ from each other!

Type 1 Diabetes:

Diabetes type 1 is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. It often begins in childhood. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. It can be caused by a genetic predisposition and due to faulty beta cells in the pancreas which normally produce insulin. Once beta cells are destroyed, the body cannot produce the insulin required to use the glucose present in the bloodstream.

There are a number of medical risks associated with type 1 diabetes such as Diabetic retinopathy, Diabetic neuropathy, and Diabetic nephropathy. The people suffering from type 1 diabetes have to take insulin which needs to be injected into the fatty tissue below the skin. It can be injected using syringes, insulin pens, jet injections, insulin pumps etc.

Type 2 Diabetes:

In type 2 diabetes, either the body cells become resistant to insulin or the body is able to produce insulin but not able to store or use it effectively as a fuel. It is the most common type of diabetes, e.g. in the UK more than 90% diabetes patients are suffering from type 2. It usually affects people after the age of 35. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually take a long time to appear and are not noticeable. There are various options to control diabetes type 2 such as weight management, nutrition, exercise, but it tends to progress with time so medication is often needed.

Common Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Intense thrust and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or sores do not heal quickly

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are as follows:

Type 1 Diabetes Type 2 Diabetes
It is an autoimmune disorder. It is not an autoimmune disorder.
Body's immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cell of the pancreas. Body cells lose the ability to respond to insulin (insulin resistance).
Insulin is not produced. Either less insulin is produced or body cells develop resistance to insulin.
It is often diagnosed in childhood. It is often diagnosed after the age of 35.
It is not associated with obesity. It is often associated with obesity.
It is treated by taking insulin through injection, insulin pumps, insulin pens etc. It is usually treated with medication in the initial stages.
It can be controlled without taking insulin. It can be controlled with weight management, proper diet, exercise, pills etc.
It is less common than type 2. It is more common than type 1.
It has rapid onset, symptoms appear quickly. The symptoms appear slowly, sometimes may take years to appear.
Ketone levels are higher than normal at diagnosis. High blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels at diagnosis.
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