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).
Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset
or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5 to 10 out of 100 people who have
diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune
system destroys the cells that release
insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production
from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they
need to produce energy.
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or
non–insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age. It most commonly
becomes apparent during adulthood. But type 2 diabetes in
children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people
who have diabetes—90 to 95 out of 100 people. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn't able to use insulin the right way. This is called insulin resistance.
As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.
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)
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
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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.