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What is Diabetes? Symptoms, causes and prevention tips

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Blood sugar, also known as glucose comes from carbohydrate foods - rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, fruit, vegetables and milk. Post eating, glucose is absorbed into our bloodstream, from where it travels to your body’s cells. Ultimately this sugar acts as a source of energy and provides nutrients to the body's organs, muscles and nervous system. A hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas, helps our cells use glucose for energy. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or the body cannot make the best use of the produced insulin. This inability leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (known as hyperglycemia). Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy. There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help. Taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education and support and keeping health care appointments can also reduce the impact of diabetes on your life.

Types of Diabetes

Three main types are:

1) Type 1 Diabetes

It is also called juvenile diabetes. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops the body from making insulin. People here are insulin-dependent, which means they must take artificial insulin every day in order to stay alive. Mostly its diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.

2) Type 2 Diabetes

It is the most common type of diabetes, here the body doesn’t use insulin properly and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. Though the body makes insulin, unlike in type I, but the body cells do not respond to it as effectively as they once did. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults).

3) Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant ladies are more prone to here, here the baby in their womb is at higher risk for health problems. It normally goes away post-delivery but the lady has high chances to develop type 2 diabetes later in her life. Even the child is more likely to have obesity and more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in his/her life.

4) Prediabetes

It refers to borderline diabetes when blood sugar is usually in the range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Here people are at a risk of developing type 2 diabetes, although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes. By following some healthy tips, one can reverse this form of diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The general symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent night urination

  • Increased hunger and thirst

  • Difficulty in losing weight

  • Blurry vision

  • Have numb or tingling hands or feet

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Decreased sex drive and poor muscle strength.

  • UTI and yeast infections

  • Dry and itchy skin.

  • Sores that heal slowly

  • Recurring infections.

Causes of Diabetes

Different causes are associated with each type of diabetes, but both genetic and environmental factors play a role in triggering diabetes.

A) Type 1 diabetes

The exact cause of this diabetes is unknown, but according to researchers, it occurs when our immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, this condition leaves us with little or zero insulin. Thus instead of being transported into cells, sugar builds up in our bloodstream. According to scientists, type 1 diabetes gets triggered due to a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factor like viruses.

B) Type 2 diabetes

It’s the most common form of diabetes and is caused due to following factors;

i) Overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity

If a person is not physically active and is overweight or obese, he/she is more prone to get type 2 diabetes. It occurs due to a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.

ii) Insulin resistance

It’s a condition when the cells in our muscles, fat and liver don’t respond properly to insulin and can’t easily absorb glucose from the blood.

iii) Genetic reasons

Certain genetic factors lead to develop type 2 diabetes. The disease tends to run in families and this makes them more likely to get type 2 diabetes and to be overweight.

C) Gestational Diabetes

It is the result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones that make a pregnant woman’s cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This can cause high blood sugar during pregnancy.

D) Prediabetes

Its exact cause is unknown, but lack of regular physical exercise and being overweight with excess fat around the abdomen are the main important factor.


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