Which is Worse, Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

Written by Hexahealth Care Team, last updated on 18 December 2023
Which is Worse, Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

Have you or your family member been diagnosed with Diabetes? Which type is it: type 1 or type 2? Ever wondered which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes? If diagnosed with diabetes, then knowing the severity of the type of diabetes is a must for timely treatment. 

To know more about — which is worse, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you need to understand the differences in the symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatment regimes. To learn more, read this blog now!

About Diabetes: Type 1 vs Type 2 Difference

Diabetes is a metabolic condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than usual. The pancreas makes insulin, a hormone that breaks down glucose into energy.
In diabetes, the body either does not produce insulin or cannot utilise it.

In diabetes, the body cannot convert this blood sugar into energy. Instead, the sugar keeps getting accumulated in the bloodstream.

Diabetes may be of various types. The main ones can be:

  1. Type 1 diabetes

  2. Type 2 diabetes

  3. Prediabetes

  4. Gestational diabetes

  5. Type 3c diabetes

  6. Latent Autoimmune Diabetes or LADA

  7. Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young or MODY

  8. Neonatal diabetes

  9. Brittle diabetes

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Which is Worse: Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

Before we discuss which is worse between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, we must understand what the two kinds are.

  1. Type 1 Diabetes: An autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin.
    The exact reason behind type 1 diabetes is unknown. About 10% of the people who have diabetes have this type, which is more common in children and young adults.

  2. Type 2 Diabetes: In this condition, the body does not produce adequate insulin, and/or the body cannot respond normally to the insulin and has developed insulin resistance.
    This is the most common type of diabetes and mostly affects adults.

Though both types of diabetes can wreak havoc with your health, many doctors will say that type 1 diabetes is more severe than type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that cannot be reversed.

Even managing type 1 diabetes is more challenging than type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes have higher chances of developing hypoglycaemia than those with type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

When we talk about symptoms, diabetes type 1 and 2 differences are not many. There are some common and some varying symptoms. All have been discussed below:

Common Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Frequent Thirst: There is a frequent need to drink water due to dehydration because of diabetes. This condition is also known as polydipsia.

  2. Dry Mouth: The mouth often feels dry.

  3. Increased Hunger: As diabetics do not get energy from the food they eat, they feel hungry irrespective of how frequently they eat.

  4. Frequent Urination: This sudden urge to urinate, particularly at night, happens in diabetes.

  5. Fatigue: Feeling tired and lacking the energy to perform daily activities is common in diabetics.

  6. Unexplained Weight Loss: Due to the body’s inability to use the glucose present in the blood, the body starts burning the fat and muscles rapidly to generate energy. This leads to sudden weight loss.

  7. Blurry Vision: Problems with seeing things clearly is also a possible symptom of diabetes.

  8. Slow Wound Healing: In people with diabetes, wounds generally heal at a slower rate when compared to non-diabetics.

Different Symptoms in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Although the symptoms of both types of diabetes are generally similar, there may be a difference in the timelines of these symptoms.

The main difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes symptoms is that:

  1. In type 1 diabetes, the symptoms may show in just a couple of weeks, meaning it's very quick.

  2. Meanwhile, in type 2 diabetes, the symptoms develop gradually over months or even years.
    Sometimes, there may be no symptoms for years until a complication occurs.

Type 1 and type 2 Diabetes Causes

Irrespective of the type, diabetes appears as a condition with excessive sugar in the bloodstream. However, the cause of diabetes depends on the type of diabetes. To know more, read the following:

  1. Causes of type 1 diabetes:

  1. Autoimmune Response: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune response in which the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells (beta cells) in the pancreas. The exact reason behind this autoimmune response is unknown.

  1. Causes of type 2 diabetes:

    1. Insulin Resistance: The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance which occurs when the body does not react to the insulin.

    2. Medication: Long-term usage of some medications like corticosteroids or HIV medication can cause type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

Diabetes type 1 and 2 differences are based on the risk factors as well. It includes the factors that can increase the chances of developing diabetes.

Known risk factors for type 1 diabetes are:

  1. Age: Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and young adults, although it can develop at any age.

  2. Family History: If your parent or a sibling has type 1 diabetes, the chances of you developing type 1 diabetes become higher.

Known risk factors for type 2 diabetes are:

  1. Family History: If a parent or a sibling has this kind of diabetes, the chances of developing it increase.

  2. Over 45 years of age: Although children can develop type 2 diabetes, the risk increases as a person gets older.

  3. Prediabetes: When blood sugar levels are already high, if left untreated, it may lead to type 2 diabetes.

  4. Obesity: The accumulation of excessive body fat can cause insulin resistance increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  5. Gestational Diabetes: A type of diabetes during pregnancy may turn into type 2 diabetes if not managed well during and after pregnancy.

  6. PCOS: Women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) usually have insulin resistance, making them susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

The best way to diagnose diabetes is by blood tests that measure the levels of sugar in the bloodstream. These tests can be done at any diagnostic centre by a blood sample collection at your home.
Some of these tests are:

  1. A1C: The A1C is known as the glycated haemoglobin test or HbA1C and checks the average blood sugar levels for the last three months.
    A1C levels are indicated in percentages.
    A level of 6.5% or high is indicative of diabetes. 

  2. Random Blood Sugar Test: This blood test may be performed at any time of the day and checks blood sugar levels.
    The levels are expressed in mg/dL. If the reading is over 200 mg/dL, you have diabetes.

  3. Fasting Blood Sugar Test: In this blood test, blood sugar levels are checked after a fasting period of over 8 hours. Before the test, you are not supposed to eat or drink anything overnight.
    The test is usually done early in the morning, before breakfast.

  4. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This test to check for diabetes is usually done during pregnancy. You are required to fast overnight, and at the time of the test, you will be asked to drink a sugary liquid.
    The blood sugar levels are then tested 2 hours later.

  5. Autoantibody Testing: An autoantibody test is done to check for type 1 diabetes. Autoantibodies are antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues.
    The presence of these antibodies is indicative of type 1 diabetes.

Prevention of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused due to an autoimmune response, and hence it may not be possible to prevent it. However, some steps can be taken to prevent type 2 diabetes. These are:

  1. Healthy Diet: Consumption of a healthy diet that is rich in protein and low in carbs can control the sugar levels in the bloodstream.

  2. Regular Exercise: Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes five days every week helps to stay active and reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other health complications.

  3. Healthy Body Weight: Maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce insulin resistance, keeping blood sugar levels in control.

  4. Stress Reduction: Studies show that high levels of stress affect the pancreas’ ability to produce the required quantity of insulin.

  5. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol Consumption: Control alcohol consumption as it affects blood sugar levels. Quit smoking as nicotine causes insulin resistance, causing blood sugar levels to rise.

  6. Get Enough Sleep: Sleep properly for about 7-9 hours every night.

  7. Manage Other Risk Factors: Take medications to control other risk factors like heart disease.

Prevention of diabetes due to some risk factors like age, family history and race can’t be changed. The only thing that can be done is to manage the modifiable factors.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

Depending on the type of diabetes, there are several management and treatment plans available. Also, diabetes has a different effect on different people, so the treatment plans are also customised:

Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

  1. Insulin: Type 1 diabetes requires synthetic insulin, as the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Various types of synthetic insulin are available, including injectable insulin with a syringe, insulin pen, insulin pump and rapid-acting inhaled insulin.

  2. Diet: Managing the diet is an important aspect of managing diabetes. The food we eat impacts blood sugar levels.
    Management of carbohydrates is important as it determines how much insulin is needed.

  3. Exercise: Physical activity helps the body respond to insulin, thereby decreasing insulin resistance. For people with type 1 diabetes, exercise is an important part of managing the condition.

Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Oral Diabetes Medications: Some medications are available that can be used to manage blood sugar levels effectively. These medications are common in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
    Metformin is the most common oral medication to treat diabetes.

  2. Diet: A well-balanced diet that is low in calories, fats, starch and carbohydrates and rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent post-meal sugar spikes.

  3. Exercise: Regular physical activity is a crucial aspect of managing diabetes effectively, as it helps the body respond more to insulin.

  4. Insulin: In some diabetics with type 2 diabetes, insulin may be required as a treatment option.

Risks and Complications of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Irrespective of which diabetes is worse, both can lead to many long-term complications. Some complications are common to both type 1 and type 2, while some of them are different.

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA): A complication that usually affects people with type 1 diabetes and occurs when there is a lack of insulin in the body.
Due to this lack of insulin, the body can’t break down glucose for energy and starts to break down fat instead.

When fats are broken down, substances called ketones are released that turn the blood acidic. Ketones cause vomiting, laboured breathing and loss of consciousness, requiring immediate medical attention.

Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS): A complication that usually affects people with type 2 diabetes, HHS is a condition in which blood sugar levels are extremely high, over 600 mg/dL.

HHS causes extreme dehydration and confusion and requires immediate medical attention.

Common Complications in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Hypoglycaemia: Sometimes, due to insulin, the blood sugar levels may drop below the healthy range, causing hypoglycaemia.
Symptoms of this complication include blurred vision, clumsiness, disorientation and seizures.

The treatment for hypoglycaemia is emergency glucagon or medical attention. In addition to hypoglycaemia, elevated blood sugar levels also damage the organs and tissues.

Some of the most common complications of diabetes include:

  1. Cardiovascular conditions (Heart attacks, Coronary artery disease, Strokes, Atherosclerosis)

  2. Diabetic Neuropathy: Nerve damage

  3. Diabetic Nephropathy: causing kidney failure or dialysis 

  4. Diabetic Retinopathy: causing blindness 

  5. Diabetes-related foot issues

  6. Skin infections

  7. Amputations

  8. Sexual dysfunctions

  9. Gastroparesis

  10. Hearing loss

  11. Periodontal disease

Role of Diet in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Diet plays a key role in the management of diabetes. Nutritional management helps to control blood sugar levels.

For people with type 1 diabetes, it is important to know how much insulin is required after consumption of certain types of food, mostly carbohydrates.
Meanwhile, irrespective of the type of diabetes, people should focus on healthy eating.

Irrespective of the type of diabetes, there are food items that are good and others that must be avoided.

Foods to Eat in Diabetes

People should focus on eating high-protein and low-sugar food items. Some have been discussed below:

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, cabbage, etc., have essential nutrients like vitamins, fibres and minerals and have lesser calories.
    The fibre helps to regulate blood sugar levels.

  2. Whole Grains: Whole grains have more fibre and nutrients in comparison to refined white grains. Consumption of a diet with fibre is important as it helps to slow down the digestion process, which helps the blood sugar remain stable.
    This includes brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa, etc.

  3. Beans: Beans are a good food item to include in the diet as they have protein and help achieve satiety.
    Therefore, they cause fewer spikes in blood sugar levels.

  4. Nuts and Seeds: Nuts are rich in essential nutrients and promote satiety. Including nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, etc. in your regular diet can help you reduce the consumption of unhealthy snacks.

  5. Fatty Fish: Fish is high in protein, healthy fats and vitamin D. Diabetics often have a deficiency of vitamin D, and fatty fish helps to control this.
    Omega-3 is essential in reducing inflammation that is caused due to diabetes.

Foods to Avoid in Diabetes

Some foods and drinks can increase blood sugar levels. In addition to diabetic complications, you also become susceptible to other chronic conditions like heart diseases, kidney diseases, and eye disorders.

Food and drinks to be avoided are:

  1. Sugary Food Items: Avoid food items that contain added sugar, like table sugar, honey, molasses and corn syrup.
    While sugar improves the taste and flavour of food, consumption of large amounts of sugar increases the risks of diabetic complications, heart conditions and obesity. 

  2. Food with Trans Fats: Trans fats are naturally present in dairy products and meat.
    While trans fats do not directly influence blood sugar levels, they can cause insulin resistance, inflammation and belly fat – conditions that can worsen diabetes. 

  3. Alcohol: Alcohol intake should be limited or avoided in diabetes. Alcohol influences the liver’s ability to release glucose and can also negatively interact with diabetes medication.
    Additionally, when alcohol is consumed, the blood sugar levels become lower. This becomes worse when alcohol is consumed on an empty stomach.

  4. White Carbohydrates: Foods such as white bread, white rice and pasta have no nutritional value.
    These food items cause a spike in blood sugar levels and contribute to not only weight gain but also increased levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol.

    Instead of white carbohydrates, consume whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain bread, quinoa and whole grain pasta. 

  5. Dried Fruits: Though good to curb the appetite and satisfy sweet cravings, dried fruits have a lot of sugar.
    Studies show that 43 grams of raisins contain approximately 25 grams of sugar, and 50 grams of dates contain 25 grams of sugar.
    To satisfy cravings, it is better to replace dried fruits with fresh fruits.
    Apples, bananas, berries and citrus fruits are good options. 


Diabetes can be controlled and managed with an effective nutrition plan. A healthy and balanced diet is effective in regulating blood sugar levels, managing inflammation, reducing the risks of heart diseases and kidney diseases, and acting as antioxidants.

When it comes to which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes, there is no concrete answer. However, we at HexaHealth can help you understand and manage both types of diabetes. Book an appointment with a doctor at HexaHealth and get the best treatment available.

Suggested Reads

  1. How to Cure Type 2 Diabetes Permanently

  2. Health Insurance for Diabetes

Frequently Asked Questions

What is diabetes and its types?

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the blood sugar levels are too high. There are several types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes

  2. Type 2 diabetes

  3. Prediabetes 

  4. Gestational diabetes and other less common types

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

Some common symptoms of diabetes are:

  1. Increased thirst

  2. Dry mouth

  3. Fatigue

  4. Frequent urination

  5. Blurred vision

What are the key differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes type 1 and 2 differences lie in their causes.

  1. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune response in which the pancreas is unable to make insulin. 

  2. Type 2 diabetes is caused when the pancreas makes less insulin than before and the body has developed a resistance to insulin. 

Can a diabetic go back to normal?

Type 1 diabetes and other forms of autoimmune and genetic diabetes can’t be reversed. But type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Stress levels should also be reduced, and a healthy body weight must be maintained. 

Which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes?

If you are asking which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes, the answer is simple. Type 1 diabetes is not curable. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be reversed if detected in time.
So, in comparison, Type 1 is considered more detrimental. 

Is type 1 diabetes considered worse than type 2 diabetes?

Yes, generally, type 1 diabetes is considered worse than type 2, as it is an autoimmune response in which the body attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
Type 1 diabetes also decreases life expectancy by 20 years or more. 

Who is at risk of developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

The risk factors for developing type 1 diabetes are:

  1. Having a close relative - either a sibling or a parent with type 1 diabetes 

  2. Children and young adults - 4 to 14 years of age 

Type 2 diabetes is most likely to affect:

  1. Overweight people

  2. People over 45 years of age

  3. People with a family history of diabetes 

  4. People with low levels of HDL and high levels of triglycerides 

  5. Women who had gestational diabetes 

How are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes diagnosed?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are diagnosed by checking the blood sugar levels through blood tests and by analysing the symptoms.

Which type of diabetes has more severe complications, type 1 or type 2?

Both types of diabetes have severe complications that arise due to continuously elevated blood sugar levels. 

Some of these complications are:

  1. Hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state 

  2. Diabetes-related ketoacidosis 

  3. Hypoglycaemia

In terms of management and treatment, which is more challenging, type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

If you want to know which is worse, type 1 or 2 diabetes, with regard to management and treatment, then you should know that type 1 is harder to manage, as there is only one insulin replacement treatment available. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with diet, weight loss, medication, and other lifestyle changes. 

Are the long-term health risks higher for Type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

The long-term health risks of both type 1 and type 2 are similar. Both kinds can lead to cardiac issues and kidney and ocular problems, among others. But since it is easier to manage type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes.
We can say that people with type 1 diabetes are in greater danger of long-term health complications. 

Does type 1 diabetes generally require more intensive medical intervention compared to type 2 diabetes?

Both kinds of diabetes require a strict regime of medication. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections.
This is not always essential for type 2 diabetes, which is regulated mostly by oral medication, diet and exercise.

Is the mortality rate higher for individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes decreases life expectancy by approximately 20 years, while type 2 diabetes has been shown to decrease life expectancy by around 10 years. 

Do individuals with type 1 diabetes face more immediate health risks than those with type 2 diabetes?

Both types of diabetes have their own set of health risks. 

  1. Individuals with type 1 diabetes are more likely to get peripheral arterial disease and coronary heart disease. 

  2. Type 2 diabetes causes obesity, strokes, and large artery atherosclerosis. 

Which type of diabetes typically requires insulin therapy, type 1 or type 2?

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin, so insulin has to be injected regularly to stay alive. Insulin therapy is the only treatment. 

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin that is made does not work well for the body. Sometimes, insulin injections might be needed. 

Are lifestyle adjustments more significant for individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

People with type 2 diabetes must make more significant lifestyle changes to keep the diabetes under control. They will most likely have to:

  1. Start medication

  2. Lose weight

  3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day

  4. Eat a balanced diet

  5. Stop smoking

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, and while lifestyle changes might help to control blood sugar levels, they will not have such a significant impact.

In terms of the overall impact on daily life, which is considered more burdensome, type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is more dangerous than type 2 diabetes. Managing type 1 diabetes is harder and can easily lead to hypoglycaemia which can be lethal.
Type 2 diabetes has a less severe impact because people who manage it effectively live a completely healthy life and drastically minimise the risk of other related health complications.

Are the treatment options more limited for type 1 or type 2 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes has only one treatment option - insulin replacement. People with this kind of diabetes have to take insulin as their body attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
The treatment options for type 2 diabetes are more - there are lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and medication that work.

Which type of diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in children, type 1 or type 2?

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and young adults, affecting age groups of 4 to 14 years. Children can develop type 2 diabetes as well, but this is more common in adults over 45 years of age.

Does the risk of hypoglycaemia differ between individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Hypoglycaemia is more common in people with type 1 diabetes because the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to make energy from food. Insulin is needed to manage blood sugar levels.
If the amount of insulin taken is not in line with the amount the body needs, the patient could have too much insulin in the body, which can cause low blood sugar.

Can type 2 diabetes turn into type 1?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are distinct, and type 2 diabetes cannot become type 1 diabetes. The two types have many common aspects, like difficulty managing blood sugar levels, symptoms, and complications, but one does not transform into the other over time.

However, a person who is initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes might be diagnosed with type 1 also.

What are the preventive measures for Diabetes?

The autoimmune and genetic types of diabetes can not be prevented. However, there are some preventive measures that can be taken to lower risks for type 2 diabetes are:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight

  2. Exercise regularly

  3. Eat nutritious and healthy food

  4. Manage stress

  5. Limit alcohol consumption

  6. Get sound sleep

  7. Quit smoking


All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.

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Updated on : 18 December 2023


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HexaHealth Care Team

HexaHealth Care Team brings you medical content covering many important conditions, procedures falling under different medical specialities. The content published is thoroughly reviewed by our panel of qualified doctors for its accuracy and relevance.

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