What's the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are chronic conditions that relate to how your body produces and uses insulin to process blood glucose for use as energy.
Primary Differences
People with T1D do not produce insulin. This means cells throughout the body are unable to take in energy from blood glucose.
People with T2D still produce insulin, but they either don’t produce enough or may not be able to properly use insulin to effectively break down glucose for cells to use as energy. Both diseases can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and can lead to other serious health complications if left unchecked.
T1D is an autoimmune disease. In people with T1D, their own immune system destroys healthy, insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The immune system attacks and destroys these cells, leaving the body unable to produce insulin.
T2D is a metabolic disorder. Researchers have yet to fully understand why people with T2D become insulin-resistant. This may be caused by genetics and environmental factors, but lifestyle factors, like excess weight and inactivity, are proven to contribute to the disease.
With both T1D and T2D, monitoring blood sugar throughout the day is vitally important in managing the disease.
Since people with T1D do not produce insulin naturally, it must be injected into the body to maintain normal, healthy blood sugar levels. Some people choose to inject themselves using needles, while others use a pump to deliver insulin as needed throughout the day.
Diet and exercise go a long way to controlling T2D. However, many people with T2D also need prescription medications to help their bodies properly use insulin.

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Related articles

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
  • Read more

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s metabolism of glucose (sugar). It is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by resistance to insulin or the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin.
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