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Basic Knowledge

Type 1 Diabetes vs. Type 2 Diabetes

By in Basic Knowledge

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.


What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Other Kinds of Diabetes

Understanding Glucose Numbers

Causes of Highs and Lows

Undertstanding A1c


Type 1 Diabetes — US National Library of Medicine

Type 2 Diabetes — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020 — CDC


No Diabetes

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.

Updated 2/17/19

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.