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Diabetes: Differences Between Type 1 and 2

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

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).

How are these diseases different?

Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes

Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. People often seek medical help, because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar.

The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis. Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with the disease.

Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are common.

There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the person is taking insulin or certain diabetes medicines.

It cannot be prevented.

It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly.

How are they alike?

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person's risk for a range of serious complications. Although monitoring and managing the disease can prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations.


Credits for Diabetes: Differences Between Type 1 and 2

Current as of: July 28, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology


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