Diabetes: The various types & symptoms

Diabetes: The Various Types & Symptoms

Diabetes is one chronic condition affecting a significant part of the world population. If you are someone who has diabetes, you might've been told to cut your sugar intake. As common a disease as diabetes is, people are still misinformed or uninformed about it. For starters, there are three different types of diabetes. All three types of diabetes have other causes and affect different age groups. While all three have overlapping symptoms, they differ for each kind. 

Here, we will be discussing the three different types of diabetes. Read on to know more.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a long-term disease wherein the body cannot utilize the glucose from food and use it as energy. The human body needs insulin- a hormone that lowers the level of glucose in the blood to facilitate a conversion. 

In diabetes, one of three things can occur:

  • The body may be unable to produce sufficient insulin.
  • The body may be unable to produce any insulin at all.
  • Or the body is unable to both produce and use insulin. 

In either of the three scenarios, the body cannot get sugar into the blood to be utilized as energy. This prompts the body to produce insulin independently, leading to a spike in blood sugar levels. When this condition is prolonged in the body, it creates insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to sugar build-up in the blood, leading to diabetes. 

There are 3 types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Causes of diabetes

As mentioned above, the causes of diabetes for all three different types of diabetes differ. Listed below are the various reasons for these three different types of diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes falls under the autoimmune diseases group where the immune system attacks itself. This attack causes damage to the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The damage suffered is permanent. 

It is still unknown why this attack happens. Several assumptions include genetic conditions, environmental causes, and lifestyle. 

  • Type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body cannot utilize the glucose it gets from food. Glucose is the body's source of energy, and insulin is what uses this energy. When the cells cannot utilize glucose, the body feels like it is not getting enough insulin, which prompts the pancreas to release more insulin. However, the cells stop responding to any insulin production over time. This process doubles the amount of blood-sugar levels, inducing a spike. When such a condition is prolonged, the body develops insulin resistance. 

Studies are still underway to find out what causes this condition. PCOS, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, and genetics are assumed to be among the contributing factors.

  • Gestational diabetes

As the name suggests, gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy. The body produces insulin-blocking hormones during pregnancy, which is the primary cause of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes only occurs during the pregnancy period and subsides post-pregnancy. 

Gestational pregnancy is often seen in patients with a family history of diabetes or prediabetic. Patients with gestational diabetes will continually develop type 2 diabetes in the future. 

Diabetes symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Constant urination
  • Feeling too hungry or too thirsty
  • Dry skin
  • Prolonged healing of wounds
  • Blurred vision

Since the development of type 1 diabetes is more accelerated, its symptoms include diabetic ketoacidosis and weight loss. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition where the blood sugar levels are very high, but insulin production is very low or nonexistent. 

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include dark-colored patches under the folds of skin, like the neck and armpits. Unlike type 1 diabetes, it takes much longer to diagnose type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, the symptoms had already started worsening by then. 

The diabetes that is more commonly diagnosed in children and young adults is type 1, whereas type 2 is common in people above 45. However, type 2 diabetes is now being diagnosed in much more youthful individuals, thanks to the sedentary lifestyle and bad dietary habits.

Final thoughts

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition. With consistent efforts, you can avert the more severe complications and symptoms. Type 2 diabetes, however, is a condition that can be reversed, given that you put in consistent efforts. The chances of recovery are higher if  lifestyle choices and dietary habits are reversed. Gestational diabetes, too, goes away with the birth of the child. However, it puts you at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.