We have heard many facts about diabetes. According to the statistics of World Health Organization 8.5% of people over 18 years of age have Diabetes Mellitus in 2014. Now it may be more than that. However, did you know there are two main types of diabetes called type 1 and type 2?

Before exploring the main differences between these types, let us revisit some background about the disease.

In a medical point of view, Diabetes is a chronic disease which occurs due to insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. So there is no cure for this disease but type 2 Diabetes Mellitus can be preventable by lifestyle modifications.

When we consider the normal human body sugar is the primary fuel for our body cells which we pump-in through digesting foods that we eat. Sugar molecules in the body (known as “glucose”) circulate via blood flow and supply nutrition to cells to produce energy.

If blood sugar levels are increased than normal ranges, we call it hyperglycaemia and if decreased than normal level, we call it hypoglycaemia.

It is a miracle how the sugar controlling mechanism preciously functions to keep blood glucose levels well in balanced. The key to this mechanism is the hormone called Insulin, which is produced by Beta cells of the pancreas.

Diabetes can occur due to: no production of Insulin, resistance to Insulin or imbalance of Insulin level.    

Differences between Type 1 and 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Now let us find out the differences between Type 1 and 2 Diabetes Mellitus…

There are various causes to develop Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus but they differ according to the type. Most of the time Type 1 Diabetes occurs in childhood and younger age, but Type 2 occurs in adults who are more than 40 years. But in this modern society, most of the people get Type 2 Diabetes even in very young ages due to changes in life style.

Causes for diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

Body’s immune system helps us to fight with foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria and to keep our body healthy. In Type 1 diabetes, our immune system identifies our pancreatic beta cells as foreign cells and produce antibodies against them. These antibodies destroy pancreatic beta cells so pancreas unable to produce Insulin.

It is a genetic disease which cannot prevent.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes may occur due to various reasons, out of which Insulin resistance is an important causative factor. Researches are struggling to find a specific reason for the development of this resistance though.

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Some people with Type 2 diabetes may have Insulin in their body but fail to carry out their function effectively. Although the body tries to produce more and more Insulin in those people that effort is not sufficient.

Risk factors for diabetes

Although we discussed the causes for Type 1 and type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, there are some risk factors which precipitate this causes such as follows.

Type 1 Diabetes

  • family history of type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
  • The genetic pattern of cells
  • Environmental factors affecting the gene activation

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

  • Overweight
  • Family history
  • Age more than 45 years
  • Physical inactivity
  • History of Gestational Diabetes
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (disease condition in women ovaries)
  • Increase belly fat layer

Symptoms of diabetes

Both types of Diabetes have common symptoms due to excess sugar in the blood.

Those common symptoms are:

  • Increase the frequency of urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increase hunger
  • Fatigability
  • Blurred vision
  • Not healing the wounds quickly and properly
  • Numbness and tingling of hands and feats

In addition to the above symptoms, people with Type 1 Diabetes may experience

Diabetes tests

Sometimes we self-diagnose diabetes based on the symptoms if there is a family history. Then we visit a doctor and ask

“I have these symptoms and family history, do I have Diabetes?”

It is not simple to diagnose diabetes by considering only symptoms. It is essential to do a blood test to confirm diabetes.

Mainly there are three tests to confirm the diabetes Mellitus

1. A test called “HbA1C”. In that test, doctors check for Glycated Haemoglobin level, which shows the concentration of sugar molecules-bonded haemoglobin in our blood. If HbA1C more or equal to 6.5%, it’s considered as Diabetes. We can perform this test at any time in the day.

2. FBS – Fasting blood sugar level checks in this test. It should do after 10-12 hours of fasting. The normal range should be less than 100mg/dL (5.6mmol/L). If it is between 100-125mg/dL (5.7-6.9mmol/L) it considered as impaired fasting glucose level. But if the fasting sugar level goes beyond 125mg/dL (6.9mmol/L) in two separate occasions we can confirm Diabetes Mellitus.

3. Oral Glucose tolerance test (OGTT) – this is a gold standard test to diagnose type 2 diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes Mellitus.

4. To differentiate Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, doctors do a blood test to detect antibody levels. If antibodies are found in the blood sample it is considered as Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

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Treatment options

  • For Type 1 Diabetes, the only viable treatment is Insulin. Sadly, there is no cure for Type 1 because the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells producing Insulin. People with this type of diabetes need regular insulin injections.
  • For type 2 Diabetes there are several treatment options.
  1. Modify the lifestyle and the diet because nutrition management is part of treatment. Strategies include:
  1. Take oral drugs to control blood sugar level.

Drugs may help to enhance the action of insulin.

  1. Insulin treatment

Insulin need when oral diabetes drugs are failed to maintain the blood sugar level within a healthy range.

Diabetes complications

Both types of Diabetes show same complications because most of them are due to poor blood sugar control. Main complications are as follows.


In this article, we have discussed many differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Finally, if you have diabetes the most important things to do are,

  • monitoring blood sugar level regularly,
  • taking treatment timely, and
  • Controlling blood sugar level optimally.

These are the pillars for having a quality life when you live with diabetes.