Diabetes Symptoms and Causes Expert Insights

Everything You Need To Know About Diabetes Symptoms and Causes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. This happens when the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot effectively use its insulin. Insulin is a hormone that measures the amount of glucose in the blood and helps it enter cells to be used for energy. Diabetes affects the basic process of the body (turning food into energy). The human body breaks down food into sugar (glucose) and then releases it into the bloodstream. As the blood sugar level elevates, the body sends an alarm to the pancreas to release insulin (which allows blood sugar into the body's cells for energy use).

Diabetes hampers this process of converting blood sugar into energy. The body cannot produce enough insulin or use it as required. Inadequate insulin, excess blood sugar, or the inability of body cells to respond to insulin will make the body store excess blood sugar, which stays in the bloodstream. Over time, the stored sugar may cause serious health issues such as vision loss, heart disease, and kidney disease.

Types of Diabetes


Pre-diabetes is a prevalent condition. Most individuals do not even know they have this condition. More than 8 in 10 individuals do not know they have it. The condition is characterized by higher blood sugar levels but less than type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Pre-diabetes increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and other conditions such as stroke and heart disease. Pre-diabetes can be successfully reversed with proper medication.

Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is known to develop in childhood or adolescence.

Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes and develops when the body gains resistance to insulin or doesn't produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with lifestyle factors such as being overweight, inactivity, and poor diet.

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes develops during pregnancy and usually resolves after the baby is born. However, women who previously had gestational diabetes can have an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of each type of diabetes can vary, here are the symptoms of each type of diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • edwetting in children who previously did not wet the bed during the night

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Tingling or numbness in the upper and lower extremeties
  • Recurring infections, such as gum or skin infections
  • Dark patches of skin
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Pain and numbness in the hands or feet

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Recurring infections
  • Unusual thirst
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes

  • Increased thirst and urination: Similar to diabetes, pre-diabetes can cause an increase in thirst and frequent urination.
  • Fatigue: People with pre-diabetes may feel tired or sluggish, especially after meals.
  • Blurred vision: Elevated blood sugar levels can cause temporary vision changes, including blurred vision.
  • Darkened skin: Some people with pre-diabetes may develop darkened skin in the neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles.
  • Slow healing of wounds: High blood sugar levels can debilitate the body's ability to heal wounds, so people with pre-diabetes may find that cuts and bruises take longer to heal.

It is important to note that some people with diabetes may not experience any symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, getting regular check-ups and blood sugar screenings is essential if you are at risk for developing diabetes.

Causes and Risk Factors of Diabetes

The causes of diabetes are the underlying factors that directly contribute to the development of the condition.

Type 1 Diabetes

The following are some risk factors associated with type 1 diabetes:

  • Genetics: People with a family history of type 1 diabetes are at risk of developing the disease.
  • Age: Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it is primarily diagnosed in children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Race and Ethnicity: Certain racial and ethnic groups, including Caucasian and northern European populations, risk developing type 1 diabetes.
  • Geography: Type 1 diabetes is more common in colder climates and countries with higher living standards.
  • Viral infections: Certain viral infections, such as the Coxsackie virus, may increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The following are some of the key factors that directly contribute to type 2 diabetes:

  • Insulin resistance: In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, which is a hormone that helps monitor blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance means that the body is less able to use insulin effectively, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.
  • Genetics: Certain genetic traits can make a person more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Abnormal amounts of body fat can cause insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing the condition.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Absence of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: The risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises with age, especially after age 45.
  • Race and ethnicity: Certain racial and ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who become diabetic during pregnancy are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS, a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries, are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as high BP (blood pressure), high cholesterol, and sleep apnea, can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

It is important to note that while these factors increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, not everyone with these risk factors will develop the condition. Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and weight management, can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

The actual cause of gestational diabetes is not fully understood yet, but it is believed to be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. These hormones can make it harder for the body to use insulin properly, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Additionally, women who are overweight or obese before pregnancy, have a family history of diabetes, are older than 25, have previously had gestational diabetes, or have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Other risk factors for gestational diabetes include a history of glucose intolerance, impaired glucose tolerance or fasting glucose, and a history of giving birth to a large infant (weighing more than 9 pounds).

It is important to note that while these risk factors increase the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes, not all women with these risk factors will develop the condition, and some women with no known risk factors may develop gestational diabetes.

Complications And Associated Risks of Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to various complications and associated risks, primarily when blood sugar levels are poorly controlled over a long time. Here are some of the most common complications and associated risks of diabetes:

  • Cardiovascular disease: People with diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke.
  • Nerve damage: High blood sugar levels can destroy the nerves in the body, causing diabetic neuropathy. This leads to pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands, feet, and other body parts.
  • Eye damage: Diabetes can cause impairment to the eyes blood vessels, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This can cause vision loss and blindness if left untreated.
  • Kidney damage: High blood sugar levels can also damage the kidneys over time, leading to diabetic nephropathy. This can cause kidney failure if left untreated.
  • Foot damage: Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage in the feet, leading to diabetic feet. This can cause foot ulcers, infections, and in severe cases, amputations.
  • Skin and mouth infections: People with diabetes are more prone to skin infections, such as bacterial and fungal infections, and oral infections, such as gum disease and thrush.
  • Pregnancy complications: Women with diabetes have an increased risk of developing health complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.

People with diabetes must work closely with their Physician to manage their blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of developing these complications. This may involve making lifestyle changes, taking medication, and monitoring blood sugar levels regularly.

Prevention of Diabetes

It is possible to prevent diabetes by following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Here are some crucial things to consider:

  • Losing Body Weight: Excess weight can be a major cause of type 2 diabetes. It can significantly increase the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Obesity can make an individual 20-40 times more likely to develop diabetes than those maintaining a healthy weight. Losing around 7-10% of your current weight is recommended to minimize chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by almost half.
  • Stay Active: A sedentary lifestyle can promote type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is essential to exercise more often. This improves the ability of muscles to use insulin and absorb glucose. The best exercises for diabetes include waking, dancing, biking, swimming, yoga, climbing stairs, etc.
  • Improve your diet: Dietary changes can significantly affect the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Avoid smoking, restrict alcohol consumption, and add the following to your diet:
    • Fresh citrus fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Dairy
    • Protein
    • Nuts
    • Fish high in omega fatty acids
    • Whole grains
    • Dark leafy green vegetables

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Although diabetes can occur in multiple forms in kids, the most common form among children is Type 1 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is common among adults but can also affect young adults and adolescents.

No. Consumption of excess sweets cannot cause Type 1 diabetes. The condition is a random autoimmune condition influenced by several factors, including complex genetic aspects.

Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with obesity and or weight gain. Type 2 diabetes is associated with weight gain and inactivity, but genetic factors also contribute.

No. The primary and best treatment for diabetes is an insulin injection. No therapy can help control type 1 diabetes patients. Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes can take prescription pills for therapy under the guidance of a physician. However, they may also require taking injections such as insulin according to their condition.

Yes! Individuals with diabetes can lead a normal and happy life. Many pursue athletic activities, run businesses, and serve as important government figures, community leaders, and amazing parents. They just need to follow a healthy lifestyle and take prescribed medications on time.

Sugar-free foods are allowed to be a part of a healthy meal plan. However, these should not be taken in uncontrolled amounts. These foods have carbs and fats and are high in calories which may affect blood glucose levels. Ensure you read the nutrition labels carefully before buying and consuming the product.

Although people with diabetes can eat anything they want, understanding and following proper portion sizes is critical. Speaking to a dietitian may help you understand counting calories and carbohydrates. This will help with meal planning specifically designed for your condition.

Studies and research have revealed that the following healthy lifestyle modifications can prevent and even delay the onset of type 2 diabetes among people at higher risk of diabetes. Reducing the amount of fat and high-calorie foods in your daily diet can help. Obese patients are suggested to lose around 5%-7% of body weight. Another requirement is to stay physically active for 150 minutes every week.

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