What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is when your body makes very little insulin or no insulin at all, and is typically diagnosed when a person is a child or young adult. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin shots or an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot use the insulin it makes, and eventually does not make enough insulin. It is normally found in people who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, do not get enough physical activity, and are middle-aged or older. Type 2 accounts for about 90-95 percent of all diabetes cases. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medications, but many people require insulin shots.


What is type 2 diabetes and how common is it?

Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into sugar for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help sugar get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood, which over time can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations. Thirty million Americans have diabetes, and 1 out of 4 of them do not know they have it. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

What are the most common long-term complications of type 2 diabetes?

People who have type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of serious health complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of toes, feet or legs. Adults who have diabetes have a 50 percent higher risk of death than those who do not.

Is type 2 diabetes genetic?

Certain genetic factors can put you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes—but type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable and can often be prevented with doable lifestyle changes. You’re at higher risk if you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

To answer that, we first need to define what insulin is. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas; it acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, your cells don’t respond normally to insulin. (This is called insulin resistance.) So your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get the cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, high blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations.

For more information on type 2 diabetes, visit the CDC’s website.


How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?

If you have prediabetes or are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, it’s important to talk with your doctor or medical professional. He or she will recommend a treatment plan to help reverse prediabetes and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In most cases this will include moderate weight loss, changes to eating habits, and increased physical activity. Your doctor may also refer you to the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program for coaching on how to make these healthy changes.

How can I reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes?

You can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthier, and getting regular physical activity. The CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make healthy changes that have lasting results.

For more information on how to prevent type 2 diabetes, visit the CDC’s website.


What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?

Sometimes there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are not obvious, which is why you should talk with your doctor about your risk for type 2 diabetes. If someone’s blood sugar level is very high, they may have blurry vision, feel thirsty, feel tired, and urinate frequently. Remember, you cannot rely on symptoms to know if you have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor.

How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed using the same blood tests as those used for prediabetes.

Interested in getting tested for diabetes? The CDC has a breakdown of everything you need to know.


How is type 2 diabetes treated?

Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you—with support from your doctor, healthcare team, family, and other important people in your life. Managing diabetes can be challenging, but everything you do to improve your health is worth it. You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. Your doctor may also prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications. It’s important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and to get necessary screening tests.

How often should blood sugar be checked?

If you have type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels need to be checked regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should check them and what your target blood sugar levels should be. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close as possible to the target will help you prevent or delay diabetes-related complications.

How can stress affect type 2 diabetes?

Increased stress levels can make managing type 2 diabetes harder—including added difficulty with controlling your blood sugar levels and dealing with daily diabetes care. Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and relaxation exercises can help. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor and healthcare team about these and other ways you can manage stress.

How often should I see my healthcare provider to help manage type 2 diabetes?

If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to meet with your healthcare team regularly to ensure you’re on track with your treatment plan—and to get help with new strategies if needed. Whether you just got diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for some time, meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance—including advice on how to monitor your blood sugar and overall health, manage stress, and give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump if needed. If you have type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education or search the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ nationwide directory for a list of educators in your community.

Can type 2 diabetes be reversed or cured?

There isn’t a cure for type 2 diabetes yet. But healthy lifestyle habits, taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education, and keeping appointments with your healthcare team can greatly reduce its impact on your life. You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and being active; your doctor may prescribe oral diabetes medications, insulin, or other injectable medications to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications.

Visit the CDC’s website for diabetes lifestyle tips.


What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes (sometimes called GDM) is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. Every year, 2–10 percent of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes. Managing gestational diabetes will help make sure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can’t make enough insulin during your pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your body’s need for insulin. All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. They start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes.

What is the link between gestational diabetes and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born—but having gestational diabetes puts you at higher risk for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later. About 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. You can lower your risk by reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight after delivery. Visit your doctor to have your blood sugar tested 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born and then every 1 to 3 years to make sure your levels are on target.

For more information about gestational diabetes, visit the CDC’s website.


With early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be reversed. By joining a National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP), you’ll learn how to make simple changes to help reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes. Find an online or in-person program below.

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