Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are often confused. However, they are very different diseases.
Take a look at the animation below to see the differences in the body when: 1) no diabetes is present, 2) when type 1 diabetes is present, and 3) when type 2 diabetes is present. Take a look at the explanations below to see what happens in the body in each condition.
Click on No Diabetes, Type 1, and Type 2 to toggle between scenarios.
Type 1 Diabetes — US National Library of Medicine
Type 2 Diabetes — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020 — CDC
When we eat, our body turns carbohydrates from our food into glucose (or sugar). Our cells need glucose for energy. Insulin is the key that unlocks the cells and allows glucose to enter. Without insulin, the glucose cannot get into the cell. When the cell is unlocked, glucose enters, and the cells turn it into energy.
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. Once the islet cells are destroyed, the body has no insulin and glucose cannot get into the cells. Glucose builds up in the blood. To manage type 1 diabetes, insulin must be given from outside of the body via injection or through an insulin pump. Pills do not work for people with type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body’s cells have become “resistant” to it. Type 2 is more common in people who are overweight and do not exercise regularly. They can often manage the disease through lifestyle changes, including proper diet and exercise. People with type 2 diabetes can take pills to manage the disease, but may also need insulin.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.