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Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

by Ghania Ahmad · December 26, 2020

In the United States, more than 34 million people are affected by diabetes. In fact, 1 in 5 of them aren’t even aware that they have it. Did you know that diabetes is not caused JUST by eating too much sugar? Moreover, diabetes can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions.

It may take time to adjust to having diabetes. This is an ultimate guide in which we’ll probe into all the details about diabetes that you need to know. So, let’s get right into it!


Diabetes and its Types

What is Diabetes?

A condition that disturbs or impairs the ability of the body to process blood glucose (blood sugar) is known as diabetes or diabetes mellitus

If you do not get treatment for diabetes in your body it can lead to an accumulation of sugars in the blood. Diabetes occurs in both men and women and can even affect some children.

Moreover, it can lead to heart disease, like low or high blood pressure, kidney diseases, changes in blood sugar level, etc.

This would eventually increase your blood sugar levels and can cause serious complications, such as stroke and heart attack.

diabetes types

It usually affects a large number of population so, there are high chances that it would affect someone in your family, your parents, child, siblings, friend, co-worker, or somebody else you know.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of its types, symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

Types of Diabetes

The management of diabetes mostly depends on its type.

Different types of diabetes may have different causes. It doesn’t solely stem from having an inactive lifestyle or being overweight or even eating too much sugar.

In fact, in some cases, diabetes is present from childhood.

There are three major types which include:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

There is one more type that can lead to type 2 and is called prediabetes.

Let’s look closely into each type.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 occurs when your body fails to produce insulin. It is also known as juvenile diabetes.

The role of insulin is to regulate blood sugar levels in your body.

Moreover, people with type 1 mostly have to take artificial insulin from outside the body in order to keep the levels of blood sugar stable.

Type 2 Diabetes

This type strongly links with obesity.

In type 2, your body makes insulin but your body cells do not show an effective response to the insulin the way they once did.

Consequently, the blood glucose level rises.

Moreover, this type is the most common of all types.

Gestational Diabetes

In some women, with diabetes during the time of pregnancy, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin.

It doesn’t affect all women and generally resolves after the process of birth.


In some cases, the blood glucose level is higher as compared to usual level but at the same time, it isn’t so high as to be called as diabetes. We call this stage as prediabetes.

Moreover, the normal levels of blood sugar are from 70 to 99 mg/dL.

However, in prediabetes, blood sugar level usually ranges from 100 to 125 mg/dL according to The American Diabetes Center.

Even though people with prediabetes usually don’t experience the signs and symptoms but they are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Intake of a healthy diet and losing weight can help to prevent the progression.


Diabetes Symptoms

Elevated levels of blood sugar cause the signs and symptoms.

Moreover, the signs and symptoms may vary depending upon the gender and type of the condition.

diabetes symptoms

General Symptoms of Diabetes

The most common and general symptoms include:

  • rapid weight loss
  • fatigue
  • increased urge to eat
  • feeling more thirsty than usual
  • blurry and cloudy vision
  • frequent urination
  • sores that are hard to heal

Symptoms Based on Gender

Symptoms in Men

Other than the general symptoms, men may show the following symptoms:

  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
  • Loss of muscle strength

Symptoms in Women

Women may show the following additional symptoms:

  • Yeast infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
  • Itchy and dry skin

Symptoms on The Basis of Type

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

The symptoms for this type may include:

  • Increased appetite
  • extreme thirst
  • weight loss (that is unintentional)
  • exhaustion
  • frequent urination
  • blurry and cloudy vision
  • mood changes

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

This type may develop the following symptoms:

  • Increased appetite
  • extreme thirst
  • sores (that take longer than usual to heal)
  • recuring infections
  • exhaustion
  • frequent urination
  • blurry and cloudy vision
  • mood changes

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Usually, no symptoms appear in most of the women.

It is during an oral glucose tolerance test or a routine blood sugar test that the doctor might detect the condition.

Moreover, these tests are usually done between 24 to 28 weeks pregnancy.

There are rare cases, where women having this condition also experience increased urge to drink and urinate.


What Causes Diabetes?

Here again, the different types of the condition have different causes associated with them.

Let’s dig in the causes for each type separately!

db causes

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Doctors still aren’t sure about its exact cause.

Although, health care experts usually believe that the immune system of our body attacks the beta cells in our pancreas and even destroys them. These cells are responsible to produce insulin.

Therefore, as the level of insulin drops in your body, it gets hard to regulate blood sugar levels.

In some people, genes may play a significant role.

Moreover, a virus can also attack the immune system and impair its functioning.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

The most common causes include lifestyle factors like the food you eat and beverages. as well as genetics.

Another risk factor is being obese or overweight.

Moreover, having excess fat, especially around your belly can make your cells resistant to the insulin effects on the levels of your blood sugar.

You are at a higher risk of developing this condition if it has been running in your family.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

When there are hormonal changes during the period of gestation, it may result in gestational diabetes.

Moreover, during pregnancy, the placenta produces certain kind of hormones.

These hormones make body cells of woman less sensitive to the insulin effects.

This is likely to cause high levels of blood sugar during the period of gestation.

Furthermore, if you are overweight or have gained too much weight during pregnancy, it increases the chances of developing this particular type of condition.

What are the Risk Factors for Prediabetes?

The risk factors for prediabetes include:

  • being obese or overweight
  • having a family history
  • personal history of high blood pressure
  • when the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol becomes lower than 40 to 50 mg/dL
  • personal history of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • having age more than 45 years
  • having a lifestyle with very little or no physical activity
  • if you are African-American, Latin American or Native American
  • personal history of gestational diabetes
  • giving birth to a child having weight more than 9 pounds at the time of birth


Diabetes Treatment

The available treatment is either in the form of medications or injections.

Let’s see how the treatment plan may vary for each type.

treatment for diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

The main treatment for this type is insulin from an outside source.

The most commonly used insulins have four types, which include:

  1. Rapid-acting insulin (effects last for almost 3 to 4 hours)
  2. Short-acting insulin (effects last for 6 to 8 hours)
  3. Intermediate-acting insulin (effects last for 12 to 18 hours)
  4. Long-acting insulin (effects last for 24 hours or even longer)

Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

Most commonly, exercise and changes in diet can help people manage this type.

Moreover, if changes in the lifestyle are not enough to bring your blood sugar levels down, you will be needing to start medications.

Some of the drugs that help to lower the levels of blood sugar include:

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors
  • DPP-4 inhibitors
  • Meglitinides
  • Biguanides
  • Glucagon-like peptides
  • SGLT2 inhibitors
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Thiazolidinediones

Moreover, some people with this type also take insulin.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment

During pregnancy, it is recommended to monitor the levels of your blood sugar several times in a day.

In some cases, exercise and dietary changes are enough to control the levels.

However, mostly women will have to use insulin to lower the levels of blood sugar.

Insulin is safe to use during pregnancy.

Diabetes and Diet

Eating the right kind of food doesn’t only help you losing weight but also keep your sugar levels in control.

Reduce the intake of carbs. Your dietitian can give you a proper chart explaining how much carbs to eat per meal.

Moreover, try to have smaller amount of meals throughout the day.

Emphasize eating healthy foods like:

  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein (such as poultry and fish)
  • Healthy fats (like nuts and olive oil)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

Furthermore, if you have developed the condition, always keep your dietician in loop.


How to Prevent Diabetes?

The cause of type 1 diabetes is a problem with the immune system. Therefore, we can’t prevent it.

Similarly, certain causes for type 2 diabetes are not in your control either. These mostly include your genes and age.

However, there are many risk factors leading to the condition that can be controlled.

diabetes prevention

Mostly, the changes you can make to prevent the condition include:

  • Intake of healthy diet
  • Fitness routine (with high level of physical activity)

Moreover, if you have prediabetes, a few things that you can do in order to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes include:

  • 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (such as cycling or walking)
  • Cut refined carbs as well as trans and saturated fats
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits as well as whole grains
  • Have smaller portions
  • Work on losing weight if you are obese or overweight

We have probed into all the details about diabetes ranging from the types to the treatment.

Leave the comments if you want to add something, have any queries or if you want to share your feedback.

We would be pleased to have your response.

Ghania Ahmad

I am a Psychology graduate and I run a small home-based setup for children on spectrum. I love making content. In the past, I've worked as a Marketing Communications Manager at Acme Business services. Prior to this, I have also served IGI Life Vitality as a Senior Executive Consultant.

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