Authored by Revere Health

Diabetes: Type 1 vs Type 2

July 17, 2017 | Adult and Adolescent Medicine

There are several types of diabetes, and the most common are split up into two types: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is in reference to a complete lack of insulin in the body, while Type 2 diabetes includes cases where the body either has too little insulin or is unable to properly utilize insulin.

Types 1 and 2 diabetes have a few big differences, and also a few similarities. Let’s break down both.


Basic Figures and Differences


Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes cover all diabetes cases not related to pregnancy in women. Within these non-pregnancy cases, here are a few basic statistics:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Previously known as juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes, this is the less common of the two—it makes up about 5 to 10 percent of all diabetes cases.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Previously known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, this type of diabetes is responsible for about 90 to 95 percent of cases.


In cases of Type 1 diabetes, it’s common for symptoms to begin quickly—often in weeks. In cases of Type 2 diabetes, however, it’s more typical for symptoms to develop slowly over a period of years. Many Type 2 cases don’t even show noticeable symptoms for years, and are only discovered during unrelated procedures.

Type 1 diabetes is accompanied by episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), while Type 2 will not come with these episodes unless certain insulin or other medications are present. Finally, while Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, Type 2 can be prevented or at least delayed through maintaining healthy weight, eating right and getting proper exercise.




Both types of diabetes carry significant risk, especially if untreated. They can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputations of limbs (generally the foot or leg).




Type 1 diabetes is caused directly by the immune system becoming compromised and attacking beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It’s believed that Type 1 diabetes is triggered by genetics and environmental factors like viruses.

Type 2 diabetes is more complex, and can be caused by a few factors:

  • Basic lifestyle: Things like weight and activity level have a major effect on your likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Insulin resistance: Often caused by extra weight, insulin resistance is when muscle, liver and fat cells don’t properly utilize insulin. This creates a need for additional insulin, which the pancreas can produce—but only for a short time before it begins to fall behind and causes glucose levels to rise in the bloodstream.
  • Genetics: This can be a cause for both types. Type 2 risk groups include African Americans, Alaska natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.




  • Type 1: People with diabetes must take insulin to replace what the body cannot produce. Insulin is taken multiple times per day, including along with meals. In some cases, people find success with an insulin pump, which provides small doses at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Type 2: Type 2 diabetes treatments can be more complex. In some cases, it can be managed through proper lifestyle choices. In others, medications like insulin and others may be needed to control glucose levels.


For help with management of either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, speak to your doctor for recommendations.


As a physician, I love helping people through stressful times when they may be sick or hurt, and aim to give my patients all the information they need to feel empowered about caring for their body and be an equal partner in decision-making.




“What is Diabetes?” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“Diabetes: Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 – Topic Overview.” WebMD.


The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.