Diabetes is the name given to a lifelong condition that causes your blood glucose levels to become too high. Glucose is an essential energy source for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues and is your brain’s primary source of fuel, so it is vital to your health.
The underlying cause of diabetes will vary per person and per type of diabetes. However, whatever type of diabetes you have, the result is too much sugar in your blood, leading to serious health problems.
Diabetes tends to manifest itself as either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. It can also cause prediabetes and gestational diabetes, potentially reversible conditions. Prediabetes is the name given to the state where your blood glucose levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be classed as diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women but usually resolves itself after the baby is born.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of diabetes will vary depending on how high your blood glucose levels are. Some people may not even experience symptoms – especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes include:
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- extreme hunger
- unexplained weight loss
- blurred vision
- slow-healing sores
- frequent infections
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but is more common in children and teenagers. Type 2 diabetes is more common in those over the age of 40.
What causes diabetes?
To understand what causes diabetes, it is essential to know how glucose is usually processed in the body.
Insulin is a hormone secreted into your bloodstream once it has been produced by the pancreas (a gland found behind and below the stomach). The insulin then circulates your blood, allowing sugar to enter your cells which lowers the amount of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream. As your blood glucose level drops, so does the production of insulin from your pancreas.
Glucose is the primary energy source for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues, and it comes from either food or your liver. Your liver stores and makes glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream and enters cells with the help of insulin.
What causes type 1 diabetes?
The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown but is thought to be a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Type 1 diabetes causes your immune system to attack and destroy your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving you with little or no insulin. Sugar then builds up in your bloodstream rather than transported to your cells.
What causes prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?
The cause of prediabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, is also unknown, but it is thought to be genetic and environmental factors similar to type 1 diabetes. Being overweight has been strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone who has type 2 diabetes is overweight.
With type 2 diabetes, your cells become immune to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this. So, sugar builds up in your bloodstream rather than moving into your cells.
What causes gestational diabetes?
The placenta produces hormones to sustain pregnancy during pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin.
Your pancreas can typically produce enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance, but it can sometimes fail to keep up. When this happens, too much glucose stays in your blood rather than getting passed to your cells, resulting in gestational diabetes.
If you suspect you may be suffering from some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, it is essential to find out more.
Test2Go’s at-home blood glucose test can quickly show you whether your blood glucose levels are higher or lower than usual in the comfort of your own home. You can then discuss this result with your doctor and ask for further tests to diagnose diabetes.