Difference Between NIDDM And IDDM

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NIDDM is a set of initials which stands for Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. IDDM on its part stands for Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. NIDDM and IDDM refer to Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes respectively.

Before going into the difference between the two diabetes conditions, lets first understand what diabetes mellitus is and how it is related to insulin.

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases which are characterised by the presence of high amounts of sugar in the blood due to the body’s failure to break down the sugar into energy. Diabetes is closely related to the hormone insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that performs the function of breaking down sugar into energy. When blood sugar increases, the pancreas is stimulated to produce more insulin so as to break down the excess sugar in the blood.

Diabetes mellitus occurs when too little insulin is produced by the pancreas or when the body cells are unable to utilise insulin leading to accumulation of sugar in the blood.

Diabetes mellitus is characterised by symptoms such as thirst and frequent urination among others. There are two types of diabetes mellitus namely Type 1 diabetes (IDDM)  and Type 2 diabetes (NIDDM).

What can hinder insulin production or utilisation?

Insulin production can be hindered by a number of factors including pancreatic defects, surgical removal of the pancreas, and autoimmunity among others. Utilisation of insulin can be affected by overexposure to insulin leading to the cells not being responsive to insulin.

Difference between Type 1 diabetes (IDDM) and Type 2 diabetes (NIDDM)

IDDM and NIDDM are different from one other in terms of cause, symptoms, and management among other factors. Before tackling these differences, it is important to note that Type 1 diabetes is mainly associated with juveniles while Type 2 diabetes is associated with adults.


Type 1 diabetes (IDDM) is caused by as autoimmunity, the body’s immune cells attack and destroy the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. As a result of this, production of insulin is reduced leading to accumulation of blood sugar.

Type 2 diabetes (NIDDM) is however caused by the body’s failure to produce enough insulin and also the cells’ inability to utilise insulin. Insulin production can be hindered by factors such as obesity, medications and lifestyle. Utilisation of insulin can be affected by resistance of body cells to the effects of insulin.


In terms of symptoms, the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes usually set in more rapidly compared to the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes are evident from an early age in Type 1 diabetes while they may not be seen until diagnosis in Type 2 diabetes. They are usually detected much later on in adulthood in Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have similar symptoms such as frequent urination, thirst and weight loss among others. The only difference between them is that symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are more obvious compared to symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes develop quickly within a few weeks whereas symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop slowly, usually over a number of years.


Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are managed differently. Type 1 diabetes requires administration of insulin whereas Type 2 diabetes mainly calls for change in diet and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes may also require the administration of insulin.

Other difference

People with Type 1 diabetes are usually thin or have a normal weight whereas people with Type 2 diabetes are often overweight.

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