Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (2023)

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Published: 11th May 2021

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Cause of Type 1 Diabetes

Right now, there is no precise answer for what causes type 1 diabetes. The immune system eliminates and kills insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Possibly genes could be the reason in some cases, the National Center for Biotechnology Information states, “Type 1 diabetes is what is known as a 'complex trait', which means that mutations in several genes likely contribute to the disease. For example, it is now known that the insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM1) locus on chromosome 6 may harbor at least one susceptibility gene for Type 1 diabetes.” Hence, genes could be a major reason for causing and increasing the risk of type 1 diabetes. There’s also speculation that a virus could launch the immune system to destroy insulin, Christophe M. Filippi from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, California writes, “A significant number of viruses have been associated with type 1 diabetes, including enteroviruses such as Coxsackievirus B (CVB) (4), but also rotavirus (5,6), mumps virus (7), and cytomegalovirus (8).” Diabetes can definitely be caused by viruses as shown by studies linking viruses to the loss of insulin-creating cells. Environmental factors could also very much influence your type 1 diabetes such as growth, obesity, puberty, low physical activity, trauma, infections, sugar intake, and much more. Diabetes can also be inherited from your parents and is an autosomal disease but can either be dominant or recessive.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (1)

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (2)

Cause of Type 2 Diabetes

Just like type 1 diabetes, type 2 doesn't have an exact cause but there are things that increase your chances of having it. What we know so far is that type 2 diabetes comes from a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. The condition can be hereditary and may run in families, the Genetic Home Reference states, “Type 2 diabetes does not have a clear pattern of inheritance, although many affected individuals have at least one close family member, such as a parent or sibling, with the disease. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with the number of affected family members.” So if there are high amounts of people with diabetes in your family your chances of having diabetes are highly likely. Family members may share genes that increase the chances of being overweight, and being diagnosed with diabetes. However, just because you have increased chance of having diabetes doesn't mean that you will 100% have it you can very much avoid the disease by staying healthy and active. Environmental factors can also play a large role in type 2 diabetes. Overweight means that the cells in your body are not affected as much by insulin leaving your sugar levels uncontrolled. Also, your parent’s eating habits or others around you may pass down their habits onto you and lead to you developing diabetes. Another interesting cause of diabetes is gene mutations, the Healthline website reveals, “Scientists have linked several gene mutations to a higher diabetes risk. Not everyone who carries a mutation will get diabetes. However, many people with diabetes do have one or more of these mutations.” For that reason, gene mutations could be a common cause of diabetes with the new found research.

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The symptoms of type 1 diabetes may start quickly, however type 2 diabetes could form affects over a long period of time that may be so mild you would barely notice according to the NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. When there is no insulin to regulate sugar levels in their body, it causes their glucose levels to rise and symptoms may quickly form as reported by Daphne E. Smith-Marsh , the author of the article “Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms”. The effect of high sugar on their well being could be very damaging and scary, “The excess blood sugar in diabetes can wreak havoc on blood vessels all over the body and cause complications. It can severely damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts; cause sexual problems; and double the risk of heart attack and stroke.” stated in, How Type 2 Diabetes Can Damage Your Body written by the health.com website. Diabetic’s lives will be heavily affected by how much care they will need to put in for diabetes. They will constantly need to stay healthy and be on top of all their needs such as, their diet, exercise, and sugar levels. If not treated properly, diabetes can have severe long term effects like eye's issues, leg, and heart issues to name a few. Lifespan of a diabetic could be lowered significantly. “A 55-year-old male with type 2 diabetes could expect to live for another 13.2–21.1 years, while the general expectancy would be another 24.7 years. A 75-year-old male with the disease might expect to live for another 4.3 -- 9.6 years, compared with the general expectancy of another 10 years.” Studies shown from the article, “Type 2 diabetes and Life Expectancy” by the website Medical News Today. The life expectancy being lowered by several years just shows how much diabetes may affect a person’s life sadly. Diabetes is also a chronic disease meaning that it will last for a lifetime. Some characteristics of a diabetic can be overweight or underweight, messed up feet, and more.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (3)


According to the medical author, John P. Cunha, a writer of the article “Diabetes Early Symptoms and Signs”, symptoms of diabetes include:

● Excessive thirst and hunger

● Frequent urination (from urinary tract infections or kidney problems)

● Weight loss or gain

● Fatigue

● Irritability

● Blurred vision

● Slow-healing wounds

● Nausea

● Skin infections

● Darkening of skin in areas of body creases (acanthosis nigricans)

(Video) Diabetes in children (2 of 9): What is diabetes?

● Breath odor that is fruity, sweet, or an acetone odor

● Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet


There is no complete cure for diabetes where they will be able to reverse it, however, there are many ways to lower and normalize blood sugar levels. One way is insulin medication where they take insulin that their body can’t produce or can’t make enough of to take care of glucose levels. Diabetics should be frequently taking down the records of their blood sugar levels. Change of diet. Diabetics can switch to a vegetarian diet, lower red meats, increase fiber intake, fewer carbs, and more. Avoid being overweight. Exercise also helps with metabolism. They should never skip sleeping and get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water and no alcohol. A bunch of protein and healthy fats are good to keep full. Avoid smoking and processed foods. Lower stress levels. Do not overeat. These are the main ways to treat diabetes

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (4)


A list of associations and support groups affiliated with


● American Diabetes Association

● Children's Diabetes Foundation

● The diaTribe Foundation

● DiabetesSisters

● Diabetes Hands Foundation

● Joslin Diabetes Center

● Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD)

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (5)

(Video) Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2, Animation.


Diabetes, mellitus is a disease that involves your blood sugar being too high. The first case of diabetes dates back to about 1550 B.C. where a physician discovered ants being attracted to urine. It eventually led to them detecting sugar in the urine. Then, diabetes was found, leaving scientists to search for a cure, and soon to discover insulin, which is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar or carbohydrates as energy and stops blood sugar from getting too high or low. . There are two main types of diabetes, which include type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is when your pancreas isn’t able to produce insulin, Type 1 can occur at any age but usually occurs in younger people and is currently affecting around 1.25 million people in the US. Type 2 on the other hand, has affected way more people having reached around 30 million people in the US with type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes means your body can’t produce enough insulin for your high sugar intake. Type 2 is usually considered a more mild version of type 1 diabetes but about 90% of diabetes cases are type 2. Type 2 also can also occur at any age, but it is mostly occurring in adults around the age of 50 or more but more and more young people are now developing prediabetes. Around 1 of 3 adults in America have prediabetes where they are very close to developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes seems to affect and occur in native Americans, Hispanics, African-Americans, and asian-Americans who all have a higher chance of developing diabetes. Diabetes is a rapidly increasing problem with an estimated 415 million people in the world with diabetes currently.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms and Management (6)


  • 29, February. “How Type 2 Diabetes Can Damage Your Body.” Health.com, 29 Feb. 2016, www.health.com/condition/type-2-diabetes/how-type-2-diabetes-can-damage-your-body.
  • Cunha, John P. “12 Early Diabetes (Type 1 & 2) Symptoms & Signs in Men.” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 8 July 2019, www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_symptoms_in_men/article.htm.
  • Department of Health & Human Services. “Diabetes - Long-Term Effects.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 31 Jan. 2015, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes-long-term-effects.
  • “Diabetes.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes.
  • Filippi, Christophe M., and Matthias G. von Herrath. “Viral Trigger for Type 1 Diabetes.” Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, 1 Nov. 2008, diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/57/11/2863.
  • Huizen, Jennifer. “Type 2 Diabetes and Life Expectancy.” Medical News Today, 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317477.
  • “Is Diabetes Hereditary? Facts on Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes: Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.com, 2 Aug. 2018, www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/genetics/.
  • National Center for Biotechnology Information (US). “Diabetes, Type 1.” Genes and Disease [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1998, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22256/.
  • Smith, Daphne. “Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms.” EndocrineWeb, 7 June 2018, www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/type-1-diabetes-symptoms.
  • “Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Dec. 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes.
  • “Type 2 Diabetes - Genetics Home Reference - NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/type-2-diabetes.
  • Watson, Stephanie. “Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/health/diabetes.

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What is the cause of type 1 and type 2 diabetes? ›

The exact cause of most types of diabetes is unknown. In all cases, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. This is because the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be caused by a combination of genetic or environmental factors.

How is the treatment for type 1 and type 2 diabetes different? ›

Type 1 diabetes has only one treatment: insulin replacement. There is no other treatment for Type 1 diabetes and without insulin, death is very likely. Whereas Type 2 diabetes can be managed with diet, weight loss, medications, and/or insulin.

How are Type 1 diabetes caused? ›

Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake). This reaction destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. This process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear.

What is Type 1 diabetes management? ›

Type 1 diabetes is managed by replacing the insulin your body can no longer make. Insulin is given by injection or by using an insulin pump. Checking your blood glucose levels regularly and learning how to balance insulin, food and activity is part of managing type 1 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes type 1? ›

you have symptoms of type 1 diabetes, including:
  • feeling very thirsty.
  • peeing more than usual, particularly at night.
  • feeling very tired.
  • losing weight without trying.
  • thrush that keeps coming back.
  • blurred vision.
  • cuts and grazes that are not healing.
  • fruity-smelling breath.

What is the main cause of diabetes? ›

Although not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, obesity and an inactive lifestyle are two of the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. These things are responsible for about 90% to 95% of diabetes cases in the United States.

How is type 2 diabetes prevented? ›

  1. Lose extra weight. Losing weight reduces the risk of diabetes. ...
  2. Be more physically active. There are many benefits to regular physical activity. ...
  3. Eat healthy plant foods. Plants provide vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in your diet. ...
  4. Eat healthy fats. ...
  5. Skip fad diets and make healthier choices.
25 Jun 2021

Does type 2 diabetes require insulin? ›

People with type 2 diabetes may require insulin when their meal plan, weight loss, exercise and antidiabetic drugs do not achieve targeted blood glucose (sugar) levels. Diabetes is a progressive disease and the body may require insulin injections to compensate for declining insulin production by the pancreas.

Can type 2 diabetes be cured? ›

There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating well and exercising can help you manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.

What happens type 2 diabetes? ›

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to insulin. This means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and tends to be diagnosed in older people.

Can type 1 diabetes be cured? ›

Currently, there isn't a cure for type 1 diabetes. However, what we know about the condition is constantly evolving, new technologies and medicines are being developed, and researchers are making important breakthroughs. Right now, people of all ages are leading full, healthy lives with type 1 diabetes.

What age does type 1 diabetes occur? ›

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age. It is most often diagnosed in children, adolescents, or young adults. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by special cells, called beta cells.

What is the best medicine for type 2 diabetes? ›

Metformin (Fortamet, Glumetza, others) is generally the first medication prescribed for type 2 diabetes. It works primarily by lowering glucose production in the liver and improving your body's sensitivity to insulin so that your body uses insulin more effectively.

What is the latest treatment for diabetes type 1? ›

An investigative stem cell-based therapy called PEC-Direct, designed to act as a replacement pancreas, has the potential to provide blood sugar control in patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes, suggests a clinical study presented Saturday, June 11at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

What complications can type 1 diabetes cause? ›

  • Eyes: Because of type 1 diabetes, you can develop cataracts and/or retinopathy in your eyes. ...
  • Kidneys: If untreated, kidney disease (also called diabetic nephropathy) leads to dialysis and/or kidney transplant. ...
  • Nerves: Nerve damage caused by diabetes is also known as diabetic neuropathy.

How can diabetes type 1 be prevented? ›

There's no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. But researchers are working on preventing the disease or further damage of the islet cells in people who are newly diagnosed. Ask your provider if you might be eligible for one of these clinical trials.

Who does type 2 diabetes affect? ›

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

What is the prevention of diabetes? ›

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking.

What foods cause type 2 diabetes? ›

These four food types increase your risk of type 2 diabetes:
  • Heavily processed carbohydrates. ...
  • Drinks sweetened with sugar. ...
  • Saturated and trans fats. ...
  • Red meats and processed meats.
28 Nov 2021

Does stress cause diabetes? ›

Stress doesn't cause diabetes but it can affect your blood sugar levels and how you look after your condition. Having diabetes to manage on top of life's normal ups and downs can itself be a cause of stress. It's not always easy to live with and this can also feel harder when many people don't understand it.

What is the main difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes? ›

The main difference between the type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that often shows up early in life, and type 2 is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time. With type 1 diabetes, your immune system is attacking and destroying the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.

Are you born with diabetes type 1? ›

Different factors, such as genetics and some viruses, may cause type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults.

Can you have type 1 and type 2 diabetes? ›

While people are not diagnosed with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes at the same time, those with type 1 may be at risk for also developing characteristics of type 2 diabetes over time. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body no longer produces insulin.

How do you determine type 1 and 2 diabetes? ›

Blood tests used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes include fasting blood sugar, a hemoglobin A1C test, and a glucose tolerance test. The A1C test measures the average blood sugar level over the past few months. The glucose tolerance test measures blood sugar after a sugary drink is given.


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