Diabetes develops when the body cannot make enough insulin or use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood glucose levels, and without a sufficient amount working correctly, health complications can occur. There are many types of diabetes that can result from different factors, such as genetics or lifestyle choices.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person is unable to regulate their blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Typically, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that allows cells to absorb glucose from the blood. This allows the body to use the glucose for energy and keep the blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
However, many factors can result in either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or cells being unable to use insulin effectively. This can cause too much glucose to accumulate in the blood and lead to the development of diabetes.
This article discusses some ways that different types of diabetes can develop.
Diabetes is a condition where insulin is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that more than 34 million Americans had diabetes in 2018, and around 7 million of those cases were undiagnosed.
Evidence suggests that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. However, the true number of deaths is likely higher as death certificates do not consistently report diabetes as a cause. In addition to various symptoms, such as tiredness, vision problems, and increased thirst and urination, diabetes also increases the risk of many serious complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Diabetes causes problems with how the body uses or produces insulin. The body breaks food down into glucose, which it releases into the bloodstream. Glucose is a source of energy that the body either takes into cells or stores for later use. Insulin is a hormone that guides glucose for use in cells or storage in the muscle or liver tissues.
The pancreas normally releases enough insulin depending on how much glucose is in the bloodstream. However, insulin is unable to properly regulate glucose in people with diabetes. This causes glucose to stay in the bloodstream so long that it becomes harmful to the body.
The reason insulin is unable to regulate glucose properly depends on the type of diabetes. The most common types are:
There are also several less common types of diabetes with different causes, such as:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risk factors for diabetes can include:
Diabetes symptoms will vary depending on the type and cause but may include:
Diabetes can also lead to serious health complications without treatment, such as heart disease or stroke.
There are currently no cures for diabetes. But there are many forms of treatment available, depending on its type. The goal of treatment is to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range to manage symptoms and the risk of complications.
Treatment for common types of diabetes can include:
Some forms of diabetes could be reversible. For example, people with prediabetes can prevent type 2 diabetes and reduce their blood sugar levels by losing weight and regularly exercising.
People with type 2 diabetes can enter remission. This is where blood sugar levels stay within the normal range for at least 6 months without medications. It is achievable through healthy lifestyle changes.
However, other forms of diabetes are not reversible. For example, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that requires daily insulin doses for life.
Diabetes is a serious condition that requires medical attention. Anyone experiencing signs or symptoms of diabetes should visit a doctor for advice and treatment. The CDC recommends seeing a doctor for a blood test for the following symptoms:
Diabetes causes high blood sugar levels due to problems with insulin. The body either makes too little insulin or uses it poorly. There are many possible causes of insulin problems, which range from genetic to lifestyle factors.
Some forms of diabetes are reversible through lifestyle changes and treatments, such as prediabetes. Other types of diabetes, such as type 1 diabetes, are currently without a cure. However, regular insulin medication can help to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
Last medically reviewed on October 31, 2021