Understanding the Differences Between Type 1 And Type 2 Diabetes

More than 34 million Americans live with diabetes, a group of diseases that affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. This condition requires careful management to prevent more serious health problems from developing, such as heart disease or kidney disease. 

But according to research by the American Diabetes Association, more than 7 million Americans with diabetes haven’t been diagnosed. Scientists believe that part of the reason so many people go undiagnosed is that different types of diabetes have different symptoms.  

At Integrative Primary Care in Houston, our team of experienced providers offers diagnostic services as well as diabetic treatments to help our patients manage their diabetes, so they can live active, healthy lives without the debilitating complications that unmanaged diabetes can bring. 

We’re also committed to educating patients about the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, so you can get the care you need and know when to seek help. Take a moment to learn more about diabetes and get a closer look at the differences between the two most common types.  


Your body breaks down food to use as the main source of energy. When you eat, your body converts the food into glucose, or sugar, to be carried in your blood to the cells throughout your body. 

As your blood sugar levels rise when you eat, your pancreas begins to release insulin, a hormone that allows the blood sugar to enter your body’s cells and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body has difficulty making or using insulin

If left unmanaged, you can end up with too much glucose in your blood. This can lead to serious medical conditions and even death. How you manage your diabetes, however, depends on the type you have. 

Type 1 diabetes

Although Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, most people are diagnosed with the condition as children or young adults. It’s a type of autoimmune disorder that causes your body to stop making insulin. 

If you have Type 1 diabetes, you must regularly monitor your insulin levels and take insulin to stay alive. Currently, there’s no known cure and no known way to prevent the disease from developing. 

Researchers estimate that about 5% of people with diabetes are Type 1 diabetics. Type 1 diabetes symptoms usually come on very rapidly and include:

If you or someone you love exhibits these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. 

Type 2 diabetes

In the United States, 90-95% of those diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. Although most people develop Type 2 diabetes as adults, the rate of Type 2 diabetes is rising in children and teens due to obesity. 

When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body is able to produce insulin, but your cells can’t use it like they’re supposed to. In response, your body produces more insulin. Over time, the glucose levels build up in your bloodstream as your insulin becomes less and less effective. 

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, the onset of Type 2 diabetes is slow and symptoms are milder. Many people with Type 2 diabetes are diagnosed by a doctor at a routine visit. When symptoms do develop, they can include:

Adding to the millions of Americans who have Type 2 diabetes, an additional 84 million are considered pre-diabetic. This means their blood glucose levels are high but don’t meet the threshold of diabetes. If you’re pre-diabetic, your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes increases.

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