Causes and symptoms of diabetes

Diabetes is the condition characterized by abnormally high level of sugar in the blood. Types include type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Diagnosis is done through a random blood glucose test, glucose tolerance test, and HBA1C.

Symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and frequent urination. Diabetes is a medical condition in which glucose or sugar level goes abnormally high. It can be classified into Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.


Early symptoms of diabetes

Following are the various types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

This type of diabetes is caused due to the destruction of beta-cells of the pancreas. In this diabetes, there is an insulin deficiency.

Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

In this type of diabetes, insulin is present in the body, but the cells are unable to recognize insulin. This is known as insulin resistance.

Gestational diabetes

Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, diabetes occurs during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes. The blood sugar level returns to normal levels after delivery.



Obesity is a condition where too much of body fat is gathered which might cause a negative effect on your body. It has chances of activating changes in the metabolism of your body and causes the fat tissues to release fat molecules in the blood. This causes insulin resistance in which the blood glucose level stays high.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

This is a very common cause of female infertility. Women with this condition often suffer with insulin resistance where the fat, muscle and liver does not respond properly to the hormones which produces excessive amounts of insulin. This increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Physical inactivity

When you are physically inactive, your body accumulates body fat. So obesity and physical inactivity are interrelated. This leads to insulin resistance and increases risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Family history of diabetes

There is a higher risk of a person developing the Type 1 diabetes due to heredity. An awareness of family history can help in diagnosing it at an early stage. Once a person develops the Type 1 diabetes, they will have it for their entire life.

Sedentary lifestyle

Type 1 diabetes

When you start living a sedentary life by not including sufficient amount of physical activity, it raises the risk of obesity which can develop type 2 diabetes. This can also affect your heart, kidney, eyes and foot.


There are hormones that are released by the placenta during pregnancy which can cause gestational diabetes. The blood sugar levels stay high as the mother is not able to produce or use the insulin required during pregnancy.

Hormonal disease such as hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is related to abnormal increase in Haemoglobin A1C levels in your body. It slows down the metabolism due to which the insulin stays longer inside the body which increases the sugar levels and leads to Type 2 diabetes.

Pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer

Around 80% of the patients suffering from pancreatic cancer have diabetes. It can cause insulin resistance by increasing the insulin levels produced by pancreas and on the other hand, it can also reduce the capacity of producing insulin. Both of this conditions causes high risk of diabetes.

Medications such as antiepileptics and diuretics

Drugs like antiepileptics and diuretics causes drug induced diabetes which is a kind of secondary diabetes. These drugs increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes as regular consumption of these medication increases blood glucose levels in your body.

Genetic mutations such as cystic fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis have thick, sticky mucus causes scarring of the pancreas which prevents the pancreas from producing enough amount of insulin. This causes Type 1 diabetes. Additionally, these people become insulin resistant when they are sick, taking steroids or pregnant which causes Type 2 diabetes.


Increased fatigue and weakness

Type 2 diabetes

This is a very common symptom and frequently encountered. You will persistently feel fatigue. Even after resting you feel very exhausted and lethargic. Tiredness is usually felt after taking meals. This is caused because of too high or too low levels of blood sugar.

Increased thirst and frequent urination

These symptoms are the red flags of diabetes. Excess amount of glucose gets accumulated in the blood. The kidneys have to work more to filter and absorb it. When they get exhausted, the excess glucose passes into urine along with fluids which makes you feel dehydrated and thirsty. As you drink more fluids, you urinate more.

Increased appetite

Increase in appetite is due to high and low levels of blood glucose. This results in insulin resistance or lack of insulin which makes it difficult for the body to convert food into energy which leaves you to feeling hungry all the time. Eating will not help you overcome this feeling.

Unexplained weight loss

You will notice you have lost weight without any reason. Insufficient insulin prevents converting the food to energy. Due to this body starts burning fats and muscle to get energy which causes weight loss. This is generally an alarming sign for Type 1 diabetes.

Blurred vision

If your blood sugar levels become high than it can affect the ability to see by swelling the eye lens which causes temporary blurring of eyesight. It can also be a result of very low level of blood sugar. If the blood sugar levels keeps fluctuating, you might notice improvement and worsening in visions periodically.

Numbness and tingling sensation

Diabetes causes numbness, loss of sensation and occasional pain in legs, feet and hands. The high blood sugar damages the nerves. The messages between the brain and other parts of the body are not effectively transferred. This causes the numbness and tingling sensation in your body.

Frequent infection especially urinary tract infection

This is a symptom of diabetes. You frequently get urinary infection because the sugar present in the urine becomes a fertile ground for the bacteria. It gives you a persistent feeling of peeing and a cloudy and foul smelling urine.

Unhealed sores and ulcers

Due to recklessness in controlling diabetes, the skin tissues break down leaving the underneath layers exposed. This results in foot ulcers. It is a symptom for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Due to rise and drop in blood sugar levels, the healing process of the skin becomes slow.

Easy cutting and bruising

Cuts and bruises don’t heal quickly which is another red flag for diabetes. The high levels of glucose passing through the veins and arteries, damage the blood vessels which slows down the process of healing.

Itchy skin

You will experience continuous itching which is an alarming sign for Type 2 diabetes. Your skin appears to be dry, very flaky and irritated. The high glucose levels damage the nerve fibres which dries up the skin. It makes you feel discomfort which leads to scratching.

Ways to diagnose

How to quit smoking with diabetes

Following are the tests used to diagnose diabetes:

  1. Oral Glucose tolerance test: Oral glucose tolerance test is the test done to determine how fast the glucose is eliminated from the blood plasma. The primary requirement for this test is the patient should have done eight hours fast prior to the test. Fasting blood sugar is tested. After this, the patient is provided with a syrupy solution and the blood test is done after 2 hours. If the blood sugar level is more than 200 mg/dl, the patient is diabetic. A blood sugar level below 140 mg/dl indicates the non-diabetic state while the level between 141 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl indicates a prediabetic state.
  2. Fasting plasma glucose test: The blood sample for sugar identification is taken in the morning after an overnight fast. If the levels are below 100 mg/dl, the patient is not suffering from diabetes. Values above 126 mg/dl indicates diabetes while the value between 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl is considered prediabetic.
  3. Random Blood test: A random blood sugar test is done at any time. A level of 200 mg/dl indicates the presence of diabetes.
  4. Glycated Hemoglobin test: This test is done to evaluate the average level of sugar in the blood for the last 2-3 months. This test measures the percentage of sugar attached to the hemoglobin. Value of this test above 6.5 percent indicates the presence of diabetes while a value lower than 5.7 percent is normal. A value between 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent is a prediabetic state.

Risks if neglect

Following are the complications developed in the patients with untreated diabetes:

  1. Skin complications: Skin infection may occur due to bacteria or fungi. The other skin problems include allergy, itching, bruising, diabetic dermopathy, and digital sclerosis. Further, diabetic foot ulcer is another serious complication of diabetes.
  2. Kidney complications: Unmanaged diabetes may lead to nephropathy and may result in kidney damage.
  3. Neural complications: Peripheral neuropathy is another complication which leads to pain, numbness and tingling sensation.
  4. Eye complications: Diabetes may lead to retinopathy which may cause blindness. Other eye effects include blurred and distorted vision.


Stages of diabetes are phased according to the amount of sugar present in the blood, whether the condition is reversible or irreversible and the symptoms experienced by the patient.

Following are the stages of diabetes:

  1. Prediabetes: In this stage, the level of sugar in the blood is higher than normal but is below the level required to be called as diabetes. The symptoms of prediabetes are very mild or non-existent. If the person has HBA1C value in between 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent, the person is said to be prediabetic.
  2. Full blown diabetes: This is the condition characterized by the presence of symptoms and the HBA1C level of these patients is above 6.4 percent.

Foods to eat and avoid

The disadvantages of using more sugar

Healthy dietary habit is one of the important steps to manage the symptoms of diabetes. Patients at the borderline of diabetes can reverse the condition simply by taking care of their lifestyle which includes exercise and changing dietary habits.

Foods to eat:

  1. Flaxseed
  2. Avocado
  3. Nuts
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids
  5. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  6. Protein-rich foods such as beans
  7. Whole grains
  8. Turmeric
  9. Cinnamon
  10. Oatmeal
  11. Turmeric
  12. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach
  13. Chia seeds
  14. Unsweetened yogurt

Foods to avoid:

  1. Flavored yogurt
  2. Food containing trans fats such as peanut butter and margarine
  3. Processed grains
  4. White bread
  5. Pickles
  6. Canned vegetables
  7. Fruit juice drinks

Prevention tips

  1. Live a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Incorporate exercise in your daily routine.
  3. Manage your weight.
  4. Avoid smoking.
  5. Limit the quantity of alcohol.
  6. Avoid sugary and processed food.
  7. Stay away from junk foods.
  8. Maintain your blood pressure.
  9. Stay active.
  10. Avoid fatty foods.
  11. Avoid overeating.

When to see a doctor

Natural sugar substitutes

Book appointment with your doctor if:

  • You are experiencing excess fatigue.
  • You feel thirsty.
  • You have increased frequency of urination.
  • You have a sudden increase in appetite.
  • You have neurological disorders such as numbness and tingling sensations.
  • Your blood levels are not in limits even after adhering to medications.
  • Any other symptom which makes you concerned.

Do’s & Don’ts


  • Make exercise a daily routine.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetable in your diet.
  • Eat leafy vegetables like spinach.
  • Remain active.
  • Do meditation and yoga.
  • Maintain your blood sugar within limits.
  • Add protein to your diet.


  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink excess alcohol.
  • Do not overeat.
  • Avoid sugary and fatty foods.
  • Do not eat junk food.
  • Avoid canned food.

Risks for specific people

Pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes and an unhealthy lifestyle have significantly increased the risk of diabetes. Elderly people and people with obesity are more prone to developing diabetes. People with high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile, and women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at peril for diabetes.