type 1 vs type 2 diabetes blog

Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes, Explained

Before we start talking about type 1 vs type 2 diabetes, here is some research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. There are 34.2 million US adults who have it, with 1 in 5 being unaware that they have the condition in the first place.

In this day and age, everyone tends to know someone who has one of the various types of diabetes. While people with diabetes must take their condition seriously, it’s by no means a death sentence. With the proper understanding of this condition and the proper treatment, diabetic patients can live long, normal lives. Of course, the different kinds of diabetes have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Here is what you need to know about Type 1 vs Type 2 diabetes.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is the technical term for the group of conditions often referred to as diabetes. This condition involves how your body turns food into energy. When you eat a carbohydrate, your body takes that carb and turns it into a sugar known as glucose. This glucose then enters your bloodstream. At the same time, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that helps transition glucose from your blood into your cells. This process is how you get energy.

Those who have diabetes don’t use insulin in the same way. Instead, too much glucose can stay in your blood which can cause mild to severe health problems. This condition requires proper treatment and lifestyle changes for the person to live a regular life.

Diabetes comes in various forms based on the underlying causes of the disease. Most people refer to these forms as Type 1 or Type 2.

How are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Similar?

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes occur from a person’s body not being able to store and use glucose. When glucose collects in the blood, known as blood sugar, the body doesn’t get the energy that it needs.

Both types of diabetes have some similar symptoms:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst

While the 2 types of diabetes do share some similarities, it’s their differences that matter most. The overall treatment depends heavily on the root causes of the condition.

Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes- Overview

Type 1 Diabetes Explained

This type of diabetes is often called dependent diabetes. In the past, people called it juvenile-onset diabetes since it often begins early in childhood. Type 1 is essentially an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your pancreas with antibodies. As this organ is attacked, it becomes damaged and doesn’t make insulin. Around five percent of people with diabetes have type 1.


Scientists believe that the biggest causing factor in type 1 diabetes is genetics. Since the potential to get this disease is passed from parents to offspring, there is no known way to prevent one from getting it.

There are also links to viral infections, like mumps and Coxsackie viruses, and other environmental toxins that may also explain why the body produces an atypical antibody response.

Symptoms Unique to Type 1 Diabetes

Along with the shared symptoms, those who have type 1 diabetes may also experience:

  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Diabetic patients can also suffer from a weakened immune system

Risk Factors

The highest risk factors are:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • Having genetic features at birth that impact how the body uses or produces insulin
  • Certain medical conditions like cystic fibrosis or hemochromatosis
  • Exposure to a specific virus, like mumps or rubella

Type 2 Diabetes Explained

Type 2 diabetes was once called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes. This type of diabetes is no longer just associated with adults as more children and teens are being diagnosed with this condition due to unhealthy diets and being overweight.

In Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas creates insult, but it’s either not enough or your body doesn’t use it properly. There is also something called insulin resistance when your cells don’t respond to insulin the way they should. Around 90 percent of those with diabetes have type 2.


While type 2 diabetes is often milder than type 1 diabetes, it does carry some major risks to your health. This type of diabetes is often connected to obesity, unhealthy diets, and lack of exercise. Obesity means your pancreas has to work harder to create insulin, but it may not be enough to keep your blood sugar at the appropriate levels.

Symptoms Unique to Type 2 Diabetes

Along with shared symptoms, those who have type 2 diabetes may also experience

  • Numbness or tingling in their hands or feet

Risk Factors

The highest risk factors are

  • Having a family member with type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • The use of certain medications, which may include some anti-seizure drugs and some HIV medications

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

To diagnose diabetes, your doctor will typically perform an A1C blood test. This test measures your average blood sugar levels over several months. There are other test screenings available for your blood sugar as well.

The following are common tests to diagnose diabetes, although some tests may be preferred for each type:

  • AIC Test, also known as a hemoglobin test
  • Fasting plasma glucose test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test
  • Random plasma glucose test

How to Treat Diabetes

While people with type 1 or 2 diabetes shouldn’t expect an actual cure, some measures can be taken to slow the progression of the condition and manage symptoms.

Managing Type 1 Diabetes

A typical treatment for people with type 1 diabetes involves daily injections of insulin. An insulin pump can also provide the necessary insulin as needed. Some patients have been prescribed pramlintide, which can help stop glucose levels from rising too far.

Along with insulin or other medications, those with type diabetes should work towards leading an active, healthy lifestyle. They should watch their glucose and cholesterol levels.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes are often given medications like SGLT2 inhibitors, DP-4 inhibitors, or alpha-glucosidase inhibitors to help maintain blood sugar levels. Other medicines like meglitinides, sulfonylureas, and thiazolidinediones help manage insulin levels and sensitivity. There are additional drugs available for those with high blood pressure, insulin resistance, etc.

Maintaining the appropriate blood pressure and cholesterol levels is paramount. One of the best ways to avoid complications is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking.

The Easy Way to Manage Diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your doctor will often prescribe certain medications to help manage your condition. With PharmaServe.com, you can easily order insulin online or other drugs from the comfort of your home.

Whether it’s your life-saving insulin to other prescriptions you need to live a normal life, we’ve streamlined the entire process. Set up an account, call or fax your order for a quick response. Not only do we ship your insulin medication directly to your door, but we help you save money in the process.

Don’t let your treatment delay your life. To learn about your prescription options today, give Pharmaserve a call today!

Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS is a practicing clinical pharmacist that works in primary care. He supports other members of the healthcare team including physicians, mid-level providers, nurses, and other clinical staff. He also likes to use his drug knowledge to inform his patients and the public about the benefits and risks they can expect from their medications. His clinical specialties include: anticoagulation, diabetes management, and psychiatric care.

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