Young woman uses a glucometer to check her blood sugar

Diabetes is a disease that disrupts the body’s production of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood-sugar levels. Though they share some similarities, type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have different causes, effects, and treatments.

The differences between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes

  Type 1 Diabetes       Type 2 Diabetes
Cause Tied to autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors   Tied to aging, genetic susceptibility, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity
Effect Pancreas cannot produce insulin   Body cannot effectively use insulin the pancreas produces
Age of Onset Onset can occur at any age, but most diagnoses take place between the ages of 4-7 years old and 10-14 years old   Most commonly diagnosed in people aged 45-64 but can affect people of all ages
Symptoms Typically start suddenly and include:
– Frequent urination
– Increased thirst
– Dry mouth
– Itchy or dry skin
– Increased appetite
– Unexplained weight loss
– Lethargy
– Yeast infections
  Tend to appear gradually and include:
– Frequent urination
– Increased thirst
– Dry mouth
– Itchy or dry skin
– Increased appetite
– Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet
– Sometimes no symptoms at all
Treatment Lifelong blood glucose monitoring and insulin therapy through injections or insulin pump   Managing diet and exercise, medications, monitoring blood glucose, possible insulin therapy in advanced cases
Prevalence Approximately 5% of diabetes cases   90-95% of diabetes cases
Prevention/Cure Currently cannot be prevented or cured   Possible to prevent or manage it by diet and/or exercise (for some)

If you are comparing type 1 vs. type 2 diabetes because you have symptoms, contact your doctor or qualified health provider with any questions you may have about diabetes or other medical conditions.

What is type 1 diabetes (T1D)?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is not preventable. This is the key difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. You do not get T1D by eating too much sugar.

In T1D, the body destroys the cells (beta cells) that produce insulin, a hormone that everyone needs to get energy from the food they eat. T1D is a chronic illness that, if not properly managed, can be fatal.

With nearly 9 million people living with T1D across the globe, it is one of the fastest-growing non-communicable conditions today.

For many years, the medical community believed that type 1 diabetes was only diagnosed in children. In fact, more than half of the people diagnosed with T1D today are adults. T1D in adults is often incorrectly diagnosed as T2D because of this longstanding misconception.

Visit Breakthrough T1D’s Diabetes Basics page for more in-depth information on type 1 diabetes.

What is type 2 diabetes (T2D)?

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body makes insulin but does not use it properly. T2D is the most common type of diabetes.

One of the most common misunderstandings of type 1 diabetes vs. type 2 diabetes is the cause. Being over 45 years of age, having a family history of diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, or a high body mass index (BMI) can all put you at risk of developing T2D.

Without proper treatment, type 2 diabetes can have life-threatening consequences. With the correct treatment and recommended lifestyle changes, though, many people with T2D can prevent or delay its onset and associated complications. 

Living with the burden of type 1 diabetes can be overwhelming at times, but you’re never alone. The Breakthrough T1D community has your back.
Visit to connect with us.