Causes of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that occurs due to high glucose content in the blood. To control diabetes, you must be aware of the factors that are primary causes of diabetes.

What causes diabetes mellitus?

Causes of Diabetes

Causes of Pre-diabetes

The condition where the blood glucose level of a person is higher but not high enough to diagnose diabetes is called pre-diabetes. You are more prone to get pre-diabetes under the following conditions:

  1. Obese or overweight
  2. Your ethnicity is African American, Native American, Latino or Pacific Islander
  3. Diagnosed with gestational diabetes
  4. An unhealthy diet including drinking sugary beverages, eating red meat
  5. Suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Diabetes is of three types:

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes 

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition where the organ pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin. It usually occurs during childhood or adolescence. 

This type of diabetes occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas (an autoimmune disease). However, the exact reason is yet to be known. Other possible reasons are genetic factors as well as exposure to viruses and unfriendly environment elements.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is a medical condition that affects the way your body metabolizes or processes blood sugar. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually.

Several factors might lead to type 2 diabetes but the exact reason is not known. The possible causes are:

  1. Obesity and an inactive lifestyle
  2. Higher production of glucose in the liver
  3. Genetic influence
  4. Beta-cell dysfunction in the pancreas

In the initial stage, the body becomes resistant to insulin. This compels the beta cells of the pancreas to produce more insulin. Eventually, glucose starts piling up in the body. In the worst possible case, the beta cells get damaged and are no longer able to produce more insulin.

Gestational Diabetes causes

Gestational Diabetes causes

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels of a woman become high during pregnancy. 

The organ pancreas releases the hormone, insulin, which regulates the sugar level of your blood. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help to build up glucose in your body. If the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to handle this condition, the blood sugar levels begin to rise. This finally leads to gestational diabetes.

Role of Insulin

Role of Insulin - Diabetes

When you eat, the food is broken down into simple sugars called glucose. The beta cells of the organ pancreas release insulin which regulates the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. It basically transports the glucose from the bloodstream to the body cells to produce energy.

When the blood glucose level in the blood rises, the pancreas releases more insulin to maintain the blood sugar level. 

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to make sufficient insulin or the body becomes resistant to insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels. 

Normal blood sugar levels 

The normal blood sugar levels are

  1. less than 100mg/dL after not eating for at least eight hours (fasting), and
  2. less than 140mg/dL two hours after eating.

Abnormal blood sugar levels

The abnormal blood sugar levels are

  1. more than 130mg/dL before a meal (fasting), and
  2. more than 190mg/dL two hours after eating.

Role of glucose

Role of glucose

Blood glucose is moved to the body cells for energy and storage with the help of hormone insulin. It is necessary to maintain the blood sugar level. Higher than normal levels of glucose lead to diabetes. It happens under two circumstances:

  1. they don’t have sufficient insulin to maintain blood glucose.
  2. The body cells don’t respond to insulin effectively.

High blood sugar for a long period of time can increase your risk for:

  • Heart disease, 
  • Kidney disease,
  • Nerve damage, and
  • Eye disease called retinopathy.

Factors that lead to Diabetes

A person is more likely to get diagnosed with diabetes if he/she has:

  1. Insulin resistance – With insulin resistance, the body cells don’t respond to insulin effectively. Due to this, glucose can’t move to cells and starts building up in the blood.
  2. Sedentary lifestyle – Inactive lifestyle without enough exercise leads to weight gain and health risks like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 
  3. Age – The possibility of getting diagnosed with diabetes increases with age, mainly after 45 years.
  4. Ethnic background – The ethnic groups like Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders are more prone to diabetes.


diabetes complications

Consistent high blood glucose levels lead to serious complications like:

  • Cardiovascular (heart) disease – Diabetes affects the heart vessels and can cause serious complications like coronary artery disease, stroke, and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) – Very high blood glucose damages the nerves throughout the body and can lead to problems with digestion, amputations, and erectile dysfunction. Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the extremities especially feet) can cause tingling, numbness, loss of feeling, burning, or pain.
  • Retinopathy (eye disease) – Most people with high levels of blood glucose can develop serious eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma. Diabetes can damage the retina vessels, potentially leading to reduced vision or blindness.
  • Nephropathy (kidney damage) – Diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessel clusters of kidneys that filter waste from the blood. Under serious conditions, it might lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease.


Once diagnosed with diabetes, there is no going back. You can make efforts to reverse diabetes but you cannot cure it completely. Therefore, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, eat healthy food and perform exercise regularly. Focus on those diabetes factors which are in your control like obesity, stress.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

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