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Can Type 2 Diabetes Turn into Type 1?

Diabetes is a common health condition that affects individuals of all ages worldwide. It is characterised by high blood sugar levels, which, if left untreated, can lead to severe complications that can negatively impact one’s quality of life.

Although there are different types of diabetes, the two most common are type 1 and type 2. Despite sharing some similarities, type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ significantly in their causes, symptoms, and treatment approaches.

In this article, we’ll discuss the main differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes to help you better manage your condition or that of your loved one.

Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Despite sharing some similarities, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different diseases. People with both types of diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. But how this happens can be quite different. [1]

The immune system of those with type 1 diabetes doesn’t work as it should. This causes their body to attack and destroy the cells that make insulin. [1]

Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. The primary role of insulin is to help our body take the sugar from the blood into the body’s cells to use as an energy source. Without insulin, the levels of sugar in the blood become too high. [1]

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or when the body cells can’t use insulin well. [2]

But the differences between the two types of diabetes don’t stop here. For example, symptoms of type 1 diabetes appear quickly, while signs of type 2 diabetes tend to appear more slowly. [1]

Another significant difference is that so far, scientists couldn’t identify factors that increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. People with this type of diabetes are often diagnosed in childhood, but it’s possible to receive the diagnosis later in life. [1]

Type 2 diabetes has well-known risk factors, including: [1]

  • Family history
  • Age > 40
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Ethnic background

Also, while one with type 1 diabetes can take insulin to control blood sugar, people with type 2 diabetes have more options besides insulin, such as medication, exercise, and diet. [1]

Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1. In the UK, 90% of those with diabetes have type 2. [3]

Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Although they appear at different speeds, the symptoms are the same for both types of diabetes. The most common include: [1]

  • Being thirsty
  • Frequently going to the toilet
  • Feeling tired
  • Losing weight unintentionally
  • Blurred vision
  • Having cuts and wounds that take longer to heal

Management of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Properly managing diabetes is vital to avoid serious complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and problems with the eyes and feet, oral health, hearing, and mental health. [1]

People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to control their blood sugar. Monitoring blood sugar regularly and having a healthy lifestyle are also essential. [1]

People with type 2 diabetes must also stay active and eat healthy to manage their weight and blood sugar. Depending on the treatment, they may also need to take medication or insulin. [1]

Currently, there’s no cure for diabetes. However, some people can put their type 2 diabetes into remission by losing weight. [1]

Can Type 2 Diabetes Become Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can’t become type 1 diabetes as they are different conditions. However, it can get harder to control over time. [4]

Diabetes is a progressive condition. When the body can’t use insulin well, it’s called insulin resistance. Cells in the pancreas then make more insulin to compensate for insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas works harder to produce even more insulin. Over time, the pancreas gets tired and starts producing less insulin, and the cells remain resistant to insulin. [4]

Typically, managing type 2 diabetes involves changes in lifestyle habits such as diet and physical activity. The doctor may also prescribe a medication such as metformin to help lower blood sugar levels. [4]

But sometimes, the body can’t keep up with the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar and requires more medication over time. [4]

Can Type 2 Diabetes Turn into Insulin-dependent?

Type 2 diabetes progresses over time. For some people, the initial treatment may stop working. In such cases, the person may need insulin injections, although their body still produces insulin in small amounts. [5]

Needing insulin treatment should not be seen as a failure. Insulin is simply a medication that can help manage blood sugar levels when other strategies don’t work or are not appropriate. [5]

Insulin can be added to the anti-diabetic medication or replaced entirely. It’s crucial for people with type 2 diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels, take their medication as prescribed, and focus on a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping an ideal weight, staying active, and eating a diet rich in fibre and low in fats and sugar. [5]

Differences Between T2D and LADA

Latent autoimmune diabetes, also known as LADA, is a type of diabetes with common features of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It begins in adulthood, after age 35. [6]

The disease occurs due to a problem in the immune system. Patients with LADA have antibodies against the cells that produce insulin but at lower levels than patients with type 1 diabetes. [6]

With the destruction of insulin-producing cells, blood sugar levels rise. This process evolves more slowly compared to type 1 diabetes. Because of that, people with LADA usually don’t need insulin to control their blood glucose for up to six months after diagnosis. [6]

LADA is often confused with type 2 diabetes as it progresses slowly and is influenced by lifestyle risk factors such as excess body weight. But they are different diseases, as type 2 diabetes says more about how much insulin the body makes or how well the body responds to this insulin. [6]


Does Type 2 Diabetes Go away?

Diabetes type 2 has no cure. However, the condition can go into remission. This is when blood sugar levels are below the diabetes range, and the person no longer needs to take medication. [7]

Remission can occur when people with type 2 diabetes lose weight, especially soon after the diagnosis. Scientists believe that storing too much fat in the liver and pancreas affects how the disease develops. Losing fat would help put diabetes into remission. [7]

Tough remission can be life-changing; there’s no guarantee it’s permanent. This is why follow-up appointments are important. [7]

How Fast does Diabetes Develop?

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly over a few weeks or months. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop more slowly, and it can take years before they are noticed. [8]

Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms and only find out they have the condition when complications such as heart disease and blurred vision emerge. [8]

Can One Have Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

People with type 1 diabetes can develop insulin resistance, a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes. This condition is called double diabetes or hybrid diabetes. [9]

Being overweight or obese contributes to people with type 1 diabetes becoming insulin resistant. [9]

If not treated, double diabetes can cause severe complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. [9]

Treatment is based on continuing insulin injections as usual and adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Keeping a healthy weight can help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of complications. [9]

Final Thoughts

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different diseases with distinct causes, symptoms, and treatment approaches. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, while type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or cannot produce enough insulin.

Type 2 diabetes cannot turn into type 1 diabetes, but it can progress over time and become more challenging to control, leading to the need for insulin treatment.

While type 2 diabetes has no cure, it can go into remission through lifestyle changes and weight loss. However, follow-up appointments are crucial during this time.

Overall, managing diabetes involves a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels to avoid complications.


  1. Diabetes UK. (n.d.). Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Available from
  2. Olokoba, A. B., Obateru, O. A., & Olokoba, L. B. (2020). Type 2 diabetes mellitus: a review of current trends. Oman medical journal, 35(4), e153. Available from:
  3. NHS. (2022, January 28). Diabetes. Available from
  4. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). How type 2 diabetes progresses. Available from
  5. El Barky, A. R., & Mohamed, T. M. Can patients with type II diabetes become type I? Available from:
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2020). Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In StatPearls [Internet]. Available from
  7. Diabetes UK. (n.d.). Type 2 diabetes remission. Available from
  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020, August). Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes. Available from
  9. (n.d.). Double diabetes. Available from

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