Diabetes: The Difference Between Type 1 And 2 Explained Very Simply

A simple explanation of the difference between diabetes type 1 and 2.

Unfortunately, all diabetes is often seen as type 2 diabetes. However, there is a big difference between type 1 diabetes, known as “juvenile diabetes,” and type 2 diabetes, known as “diabetes of affluence.” 

Here we explain quite simply why type 1 and type 2 diabetes are two different diseases, with varying groups of sufferers, causes, and treatments.

Childhood diabetes vs. adult-onset diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

It accounts for 5 to of diabetes, is an autoimmune disease with failure of the pancreas to be affected by autoantibodies. In comparison, little is known about the causes of type 1 diabetes. However, It’s not triggered by the lifestyle.

The disease often develops from a young age and requires immediate insulin treatment. This is why we refer to it as “insulin-dependent diabetes.” 

Besides, it’s not always easy to detect. For example, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed too often and incorrectly in overweight children as types 1 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes

It accounts for 90% of diabetes, is caused by a decrease in insulin sensitivity associated with pancreatic beta cells problems.

Type 2 diabetes generally begins after the age of 40, has a strong genetic component, and can result from an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Although obesity, overly fatty and sweet diets, and physical inactivity are considered risk factors, the causes of type 2 diabetes cannot be summarized in terms of lifestyle alone.

The diet of patients at the onset of their diabetes is not significantly different from that of non-diabetic individuals of the same age. 

Also, for genetic reasons, these people do not “tolerate” our current high-energy and readily available food. So they gain weight more easily than others and are at higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus 2. 

In this case, it is recommended to change the diet and be more physically active, although this is not always easy at an increased age when type 2 diabetes occurs.

Diabetes type 1 or type 2: A not always an easy diagnosis

Diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is usually easy because the symptoms are evident. Likewise, the profile type of type 2 diabetes is known. 

But still, in certain situations, physicians may have difficulty making the diagnosis. This is especially the case with the pediatric form of type 2 diabetes. Young patients with DM2 often require insulin much more quickly than older patients.

Nevertheless, physicians can distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes based on very defining factors. 

Type 2 diabetes very rarely develops before the age of eight. By then, the child is often very obese and, most importantly, lacks autoimmunity markers (autoantibodies used to diagnose type 1 diabetes).

Conversely, in adults, some forms of type 1 diabetes may initially be misdiagnosed as true type 2 diabetes, and antidiabetic drugs initially succeed in controlling diabetes. 

However, treatment must then be rapidly intensified and additional insulin used. In addition, the antibody screening test – is performed – will be positive. This is the variant of type 1 diabetes called LADA (Late-onset Autoimmune Diabetes in the Adult), the early course of which is misleading for doctors.

Differences between the two types of diabetes in treatment

Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections. And it depends on the blood glucose level present at the time of diagnosis to replace the output of the defective pancreas.

And Type 2 diabetes is characterized by resistance to the effects of insulin. Therefore, the physician may initially recommend non-drug measures in terms of diet and exercise, which may be sufficient at the beginning, but will most likely prescribe antidiabetic treatment in the form of tablets later on. This is sometimes referred to as ” non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus ” (NIDM).

Differences between the two types of diabetes in treatment in Complications

The complications of the two types are similar.

Prolonged hyperglycemia has adverse arterial effects in both cases, with renal, cardiovascular, or visual damage.

Patients with type 1 diabetes are at risk for diabetes complications earlier. Type 2 diabetes patients are often older and less aware of physical inactivity and obesity risks that add to high blood glucose levels. 

Regardless of the type of diabetes, however, good glycemic balance and follow-up can delay or even prevent the onset of complications.