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  3. What are the Differences in the Types of Diabetes
Living with Diabetes

What are the Differences in the Types of Diabetes


There are two primary types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Both types of diabetes are chronic conditions that affect the body’s ability to effectively store and use glucose, or sugar, for energy. When the body’s cells are unable to properly use glucose, too much glucose can remain in the blood and increase the risk of complications.

Man upset of diabetes drugs required to take

Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to transport glucose into the body’s cells for energy. When the insulin is not working effectively or there is not enough insulin, glucose is unable to be used well, or at all, by the cells. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterized by problems with insulin.

What are the main differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and young adults, although it can also develop in older people. It is considered an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the beta cells (the cells responsible for producing insulin) in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is typically a hereditary disease that is passed down from a parent, and there is no way to prevent it. Approximately, up to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a common type of diabetes. While it’s more common across a wider range of age groups, it can also develop in children. Unlike with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes are able to produce insulin; however, the insulin that they produce does not work effectively. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by different lifestyle factors, especially overeating or being overweight. Around 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms are similar in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores or wounds that heal very slowly

Symptoms in type 1 diabetes develop more quickly than those in type 2 diabetes. Sometimes, symptoms in type 2 diabetes are so mild that they go unnoticed for years until complications arise. In contrast, type 1 diabetes symptoms can be experienced within a few weeks with symptoms that are more obvious.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Since symptoms can appear more suddenly with type 1 diabetes, it is important to see a healthcare provider as soon as symptoms become apparent. People who are obese or have a family history of diabetes should consider regular checkups at the doctor to monitor their risk of developing the condition. Certain tests can be used to diagnose both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These tests include:

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test
  • A1C, or hemoglobin A1c, test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test

Treatment for the different types of diabetes

There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes will need to use regular insulin injections since their body can’t produce insulin on its own. Instead of insulin injections, they can also use insulin pumps, which are attached to the body and provide consistent insulin levels throughout the day. Most pumps can monitor glucose levels throughout the day to ensure enough insulin is being given when needed.

Someone with type 2 diabetes is usually recommended lifestyle modifications first to correct abnormal glucose levels. These lifestyle medications include regular exercise and a diet plan. Medications can also be prescribed if lifestyle medications are not enough to correct glucose levels. A healthcare provider may recommend someone with type 2 diabetes to monitor their glucose levels regularly to see how the medication is working.

Save on your diabetes medications with Inside Rx

Treating diabetes can be expensive if you don’t have insurance or are underinsured. We recently conducted a study that showed that out of the 30 million Americans living with diabetes, one-in-five have trouble affording their diabetes medications. Unaffordability forces those living with diabetes to stop taking their medication completely or to ration it, which are extremely dangerous.

Using a prescription discount card like Inside Rx allows you to compare prices for your insulin and diabetes medications to see if you can save up to 65% off. Simply type your medication in the search bar, enter your zip code and compare prices at the participating pharmacies that are nearest to you. Then, instantly download your free prescription discount card from Inside Rx and show it at the pharmacy to see if you can save. Many patients who use Inside Rx find that they can save up to 80% on brand and generic medications.

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Save up to 80% on brand & generic prescription medications.

Save up to 80% on brand & generic prescription medications.