Diabetes: Type 1 vs. Type 2

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Published on January 25, 2019

Diabetes: Type 1 vs. Type 2

Graphic of the word: Diabetes

Graphic of the word: DiabetesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million U.S. adults have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that results in high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

“It is important to know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and to be cautious if you are overweight, are pregnant or have a family history of the disease,” says Asma Hasan MD, Endocrinologist at PIH Health.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which means the body's immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This results in having little or no insulin in the body. Insulin is needed to help glucose enter cells for energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. This causes high blood glucose or high blood sugar. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day in order to live. Type 1 diabetes may also be known as:

  • Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)
  • Juvenile diabetes
  • Brittle diabetes
  • Sugar diabetes

Type 1 diabetes accounts for five percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S. and most often develops in children or young adults, but can start at any age.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body cannot make enough insulin or is not able to use it properly. It is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled with diet, exercise, and weight loss, or through oral medicines or insulin injections.

The exact cause of Type 2 diabetes is not known, yet it seems to run in families. Type 2 diabetes often takes other factors to bring on the disease. These factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Taking certain medications

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include but are not limited to: 

  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Skin infections that don't heal easily
  • Excess thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet

Some people who have Type 2 diabetes don’t have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and you may not notice them. In fact, half of all Americans who have diabetes don't know it. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may be similar to other health problems. If you believe that you may have Type 2 diabetes or are at risk for the disease, make an appointment with your primary care doctor for a diagnosis.

To find a list of PIH Health Physicians near you, visit: PIHHealth.org/Find-a-Doctor.

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The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.