Second Opinion: What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

In 2012, 29 million Americans had diabetes; 1.25 million had Type 1.  The difference is huge! With Type 1, your pancreas produces no insulin, and so, it is impossible to live without insulin injections. The Type 2 diabetic makes insulin, but it would be best to say that they don’t make and release enough—soon enough—into the blood stream when needed.

Type 1 diabetics are more frequently diagnosed earlier in life. This form is classified as an autoimmune disease because antibodies made by the body attack the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. The cause is not clearly understood but genetic and environmental triggers both seem to play a role.

Type 2 diabetes is much different. There is also a genetic component to its development but it is more likely to occur in older, heavier people. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t always require insulin injections but tends to become more difficult to treat over time as the pancreas gradually produces less insulin and the body develops increasing insulin resistance associated with weight gain.

Ralph Robertson, M.D.

Medical Director of Lackey Free Clinic