Type 2 diabetes can’t turn into type 1 diabetes. They’re separate conditions with distinct causes.

Type 1 diabetes tends to develop in early childhood while type 2 diabetes can take years to develop. However, some people may be misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes when they have another condition.

Keep reading to learn more about type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and other diagnoses.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the insulin-producing islet beta cells in the pancreas are completely destroyed, preventing the body from producing any insulin.


Insulin allows blood sugar (glucose) to enter the body’s cells where it’s used for energy. Insulin also tells the liver to store blood sugar for later use.

Was this helpful?

In type 2 diabetes, the islet beta cells are still working. However, the body is resistant to insulin. In other words, the body no longer uses insulin efficiently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is far less common than type 2. It used to be called juvenile diabetes because the condition is typically diagnosed in early childhood. Type 2 diabetes develops over years. It’s more commonly diagnosed in adults age 45 and older, though more children are being diagnosed with this disease in recent years.

Type 2 diabetes can’t turn into type 1 diabetes, since the two conditions have different causes.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the islet beta cells in the pancreas. These cells typically produce insulin.

Symptoms may not appear for months or years. If a doctor diagnoses you with type 1 diabetes, it means that your pancreas no longer produces insulin or produces a very small amount of insulin.

Type 1 diabetes can’t be caused by type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin, but the cells in your body don’t respond to it and use it efficiently. This causes the pancreas to produce even more insulin and typically results in high blood sugar.

It’s possible for someone with type 2 diabetes to be misdiagnosed. They may have many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes but actually have another condition that may be more closely related to type 1 diabetes. This condition is called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA).

Researchers estimate that between 4% and 12% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes might actually have LADA.

Many physicians are still unfamiliar with the condition. They may diagnose a person has type 2 diabetes because of their age and symptoms.

In general, a misdiagnosis is possible because:

  • Both LADA and type 2 diabetes typically develop in adults.
  • The initial symptoms of LADA can vary and some potential symptoms — such as excessive thirst, blurred vision, and high blood sugar — may look a lot like symptoms of type 2 diabetes because people with LADA may have some amount of insulin deficiency.
  • Doctors don’t typically run tests for LADA when diagnosing diabetes.
  • Initially, the pancreas in people with LADA still produces some insulin.
  • Diet, exercise, and oral drugs usually used to treat type 2 diabetes can work well in people with LADA at first.

As of now, there’s still a lot of uncertainty over how exactly to define LADA and what causes it to develop. The exact cause of LADA is unknown, but researchers have identified certain genes that may play a role.

LADA may only be suspected after your doctor realizes that you’re not responding (or no longer responding) well to oral type 2 diabetes medications, diet, and exercise.

Many doctors consider LADA the adult form of type 1 diabetes because it’s also an autoimmune condition.

Like with type 1 diabetes, the islet cells in the pancreas of people with LADA are destroyed. However, this process occurs much more slowly. Once it starts, it can take several months to several years for the pancreas to stop being able to make insulin.

Other experts consider LADA somewhere in between type 1 and type 2 and even call it “type 1.5” diabetes. These researchers believe that diabetes can occur along a spectrum.

Researchers are still trying to figure out the details, but in general, LADA is known to:

  • develop in adulthood
  • have a slower course of onset than type 1 diabetes
  • often occur in people who aren’t overweight
  • often occur in people who don’t have other metabolic issues, such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides
  • result in a positive test for antibodies against the islet cells

The symptoms of LADA are due to hyperglycemia as in type 2 and type 1 diabetes. These symptoms can include:

In addition, the treatment plans for LADA and type 2 diabetes are similar at first. Such treatment may include:

Unlike people with type 2 diabetes who may never need insulin and who can delay or prevent diabetes with lifestyle changes and weight loss, people with LADA can’t reverse their condition.

If you have LADA, you’ll eventually be required to take insulin to stay healthy.

If you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, understand that your condition can’t eventually turn into autoimmune type 1 diabetes, but it can turn into insulin-dependent.

However, there’s a small possibility that your type 2 diabetes is actually LADA, or type 1.5 diabetes.

This is especially true if you’re at a moderate weight or if you have a family history of autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

It’s important to correctly diagnose LADA since you’ll need to start on insulin shots early to control your condition. A misdiagnosis can be frustrating and confusing. If you have any concerns about your type 2 diabetes diagnosis, talk with a doctor.

The only way to properly diagnose LADA is to test for the antibodies that show an autoimmune attack on your islet beta cells. A doctor may order a GAD antibody blood test to determine whether you have the condition.