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Diabetes: its types, symptoms, causes and treatments

Diabetes: its types, symptoms, causes and treatments

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition where your body has trouble managing sugar, called glucose, in your blood. Normally, your body uses a hormone called insulin to help move glucose from your blood into your cells, where it's used for energy. But with diabetes, either your body doesn't make enough insulin, or it can't use it properly. This leads to high levels of glucose in your blood, which can cause various health problems if not managed properly.
Diabetes is a health condition where your body has trouble managing the sugar in your blood. Normally, when you eat, your body breaks down food into glucose, which is a form of sugar that serves as fuel for your cells.
Diabetes mellitus is the medical term for diabetes, a chronic health condition characterized by high levels of sugar, or glucose, in the blood. "Mellitus" comes from Latin and means "sweet like honey," which refers to the high levels of sugar found in the urine of people with untreated diabetes.

Here's how it works:

  • Insulin: Your pancreas, a gland in your abdomen, produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts like a key that unlocks cells, allowing glucose from the bloodstream to enter and be used for energy.
  • Glucose Regulation: In a healthy person, insulin helps keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. When blood sugar levels rise after eating, the pancreas releases insulin to help move glucose into cells. Between meals, when blood sugar levels drop, the pancreas slows down insulin production to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.

Types of Diabetes

Here are the main types of diabetes

  • Type 1 Diabetes: This type occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed by it.Thus, the body generates inadequate levels of insulin.Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults, although it can occur at any age. People with Type 1 diabetes require insulin injections or an insulin pump to survive.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This type occurs when the body either doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common and is often associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet. It typically develops in adulthood, but it's increasingly seen in children and adolescents due to rising obesity rates. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, along with oral medications or insulin if needed.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This type occurs during pregnancy when hormones produced by the placenta can make the body less responsive to insulin. Gestational diabetes usually develops around the 24th week of pregnancy and often goes away after childbirth. Nevertheless, females who have experienced gestational diabetes are more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
  • Monogenic Diabetes: This is a rare form of diabetes caused by changes in a single gene. It usually develops in infancy or early childhood and can be mistaken for Type 1 diabetes. Monogenic diabetes can sometimes be managed with oral medications rather than insulin.
  • Secondary Diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs as a result of another medical condition or factor, such as pancreatic disease, hormonal disorders, certain medications, or genetic syndromes. It is crucial to effectively manage the primary condition in order to control secondary diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Here are the common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Frequent Urination (Polyuria): Excess sugar in the blood pulls fluid from tissues, leading to increased urination. This can result in frequent trips to the bathroom, especially at night.
  • Increased Thirst (Polydipsia): Dehydration caused by frequent urination can make you feel thirsty more often.
  • Extreme Hunger (Polyphagia): Despite eating, you may feel constantly hungry because your cells aren't getting enough glucose for energy.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Even if you're eating more than usual, you may lose weight without trying. This occurs because your body is unable to use glucose properly for energy, so it starts burning fat and muscle for fuel.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or fatigued is common in diabetes, as your body's cells aren't getting enough energy.
  • Blurry Vision: High blood sugar levels can cause fluid to be pulled from the lenses of your eyes, affecting your ability to focus.
  • Slow Healing of Wounds: High blood sugar can impair circulation and damage nerves, leading to slower healing of cuts and bruises.
  • Frequent Infections: Diabetes can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections, especially urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and skin infections.
  • Tingling or Numbness in Hands and Feet: High blood sugar levels can damage nerves, leading to tingling, numbness, or burning sensations in the hands and feet, known as diabetic neuropathy.
  • Dry Skin and Itching: Diabetes can cause dry skin and itchiness, particularly in the lower legs and feet.
  • Yeast Infections: Women with diabetes may experience more frequent yeast infections, such as vaginal yeast infections, due to elevated blood sugar levels creating an environment conducive to yeast growth.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Men with diabetes may experience erectile dysfunction, while women may have decreased libido or difficulty achieving orgasm.

Causes of Diabetes

Here are the main causes and risk factors associated with diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes:


  • Autoimmune Response: The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve an autoimmune response in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as viral infections, may play a role in triggering this autoimmune response.

Type 2 Diabetes:


  • Insulin Resistance: In Type 2 diabetes, the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, and/or the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to meet the body's demands. This leads to higher levels of glucose in the bloodstream.
  • Genetic Factors: Family history and genetics can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Having a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes increases your risk.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: The risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with age, particularly after age 45.
  • Ethnicity:Certain racial and ethnic communities, such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, face an increased susceptibility to developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Other Types of Diabetes:


  • Gestational Diabetes: The exact cause of gestational diabetes is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve hormonal changes during pregnancy that make the body less responsive to insulin. Risk factors include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, and certain ethnic backgrounds.
  • Secondary Diabetes: This type of diabetes is caused by another underlying medical condition or factor, such as pancreatic disease, hormonal disorders, certain medications (e.g., corticosteroids), or genetic syndromes.

Treatments of Diabetes

The treatment of diabetes aims to manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications. These are the primary treatment choices available for diabetes:

Lifestyle Changes:

  • Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help manage blood sugar levels. Limiting the intake of sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods is also important.
  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or other aerobic exercises, helps improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Strive to engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise with moderate intensity every week.
  • Weight Management: Losing excess weight, if overweight or obese, can improve insulin sensitivity and help control blood sugar levels. Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% of body weight can have significant health benefits for people with diabetes.
  • Quitting Smoking: Smoking can worsen the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and nerve damage. Quitting smoking can improve overall health and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.



  • Insulin Therapy: People with Type 1 diabetes and some people with Type 2 diabetes may require insulin therapy to manage their blood sugar levels. Insulin is typically injected subcutaneously using insulin syringes, pens, or insulin pumps.
  • Oral Medications: For Type 2 diabetes, various oral medications may be prescribed to help lower blood sugar levels. These medications work by increasing insulin production, improving insulin sensitivity, or reducing glucose production in the liver. Common classes of oral medications include metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT2 inhibitors, and GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels:

It is imperative to regularly monitor blood sugar levels in order to effectively manage diabetes.. This may involve self-monitoring using a glucometer to check blood sugar levels at home or periodic testing of HbA1c levels to assess long-term blood sugar control.

Regular Medical Check-ups:

Routine medical check-ups with healthcare providers, including primary care physicians, endocrinologists, and diabetes educators, are important for monitoring diabetes control, screening for complications, adjusting treatment plans as needed, and providing education and support.

Diabetes Education and Support:

Diabetes education programs, support groups, and resources can help individuals with diabetes better understand their condition, learn self-management skills, and make informed decisions about their health.

Best Doctors for Diabetologist Treatments in India

Dr.Mayur Agrawal is an Endocrinologist currently providing his services at Apollo SAGE Hospitals in Bhopal. With a decade of experience, he specializes in endocrinology and diabetes and has received training at some of India's top hospitals. His expertise lies in the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, thyroid disorders including goiter and graves disease, reproductive and growth hormone-related disorders, Pituitary disorders such as prolactinoma, Cushing disease, acromegaly, NFPA, and other hormone disorders. 
He obtained his MBBS degree in 2012 from Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik, and later pursued MD, which he completed in 2015. He further pursued his DNB in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism from the National Board of Examination, and in 2020, he earned his DM in Endocrinology from SGPGI. 
Dr. Agrawal achieved a score of 649 in the MRCP(UK) SCE (Endocrinology and diabetes) examination. He is a member of the Indian Medical Association, the Research Society For the Study of Diabetes in India, and the Endocrine Society of India.


  • 1.What is diabetes caused by?

Answer: Diabetes arises due to issues with insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. It manifests in two primary forms:
Type 1 diabetes: The immune system erroneously targets and eliminates the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes: The body fails to utilize insulin effectively, leading to insufficient insulin production by the pancreas, resulting in abnormal blood sugar levels.

  • 2.How does diabetes affect you?

Answer: The impact of diabetes on your body's ability to utilize sugar for energy can manifest in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, excessive urination, constant thirst, unintended weight loss, blurred vision, slow wound healing, and nerve damage, especially in the feet and hands.

  • 3.What are the main symptoms of diabetes?

Answer :Common signs of diabetes consist of:
1.Frequent urination
2.Excessive thirst
3.Unintentional weight loss
5.Blurry vision

  • 4. Can type 1 diabetes live normal life?

Answer:  As of today, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. However, our understanding of type 1 diabetes is constantly improving with the development of new technologies and new drugs. Research has also made important discoveries. Although type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, individuals of all ages can lead normal lives. You can, too!

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