What Is the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Of the 29 million Americans with diabetes, nearly one in four don’t know they have the disease. Diabetes in all its forms is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to use glucose for energy.

Your body needs insulin — a hormone that your pancreas creates — to convert the sugars and carbohydrates in the food you eat into glucose. Your body uses glucose for energy in your cells.

If you have diabetes, your cells can’t use glucose properly. Instead, it builds up in your blood. This condition can potentially damage the blood vessels in your heart, nervous system, and kidneys if left untreated.

If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert nutrients you eat into glucose, or it can’t use the insulin it does produce. Different types of diabetes have different causes, and the way you’re diagnosed and treated is different. It’s important to recognize the risk factors and signs of diabetes so that you can treat it effectively.

The two most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. Dr. Madhav Devani of Ross Bridge Medical Center treats both types of diabetes and helps patients of all ages manage their condition successfully.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease

The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes isn’t clear, but it may be caused by genetic and environmental factors. Your risk for having Type 1 diabetes is higher if you have a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body attacks your pancreas with antibodies, making it impossible for your pancreas to make insulin. It’s difficult to predict the onset of Type 1 diabetes, because some people with diabetes autoantibodies develop it, while others don’t.

Type 1 diabetes often develops during childhood because it’s an autoimmune condition. Patients can lead long, healthy lives by following treatment plans and closely monitoring their blood glucose levels to keep blood vessel damage to a minimum.

With Type 1 diabetes, you need to take insulin since your pancreas can’t create insulin on its own. You also need to develop a lifestyle with daily exercise, a strict, healthy diet, and regular blood monitoring. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to monitor your health will help you live a healthy, happy life with Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common

About 95% of adults with diabetes have Type 2. Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common type, and it’s typically milder than Type 1. But it still involves close monitoring of your blood glucose levels.

With Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas usually produces some insulin, but it either isn’t enough for your body or your cells are resistant to insulin. Obese people are insulin-resistant, so you’re more likely to develop diabetes if you’re more than 20% over your recommended body weight.

There are a number of risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Family history
  • Weight
  • Activity level
  • Race
  • Age
  • High blood pressure

If you’re overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle, you’re more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Prediabetes is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and it’s diagnosed if you have high blood glucose levels — but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

All types of diabetes can cause damage to your blood vessels. This puts you at increased risk for nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, foot damage, stroke, and more. To help protect yourself from the serious complications of diabetes, regular monitoring of your blood glucose is essential.

There is no known cure for diabetes, but you can typically manage your condition successfully with medication, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. Dr. Madhav Devani of Ross Bridge Medical Center is here to help you understand diabetes. Make an appointment today to learn more about your risk for developing diabetes and how to live a healthier life. You can call our office at 205-494-7677 or schedule an appointment online using our convenient online booking tool.


Our goal is for you to leave our office with a memorable and enjoyable experience, which is why our welcoming and compassionate staff will do everything they can to make you feel right at home.

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