Diabetes is a chronic condition in which there are abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood. There are two forms of diabetes – type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is known as an autoimmune disease, and it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Scientists still don’t know why the immune system sees those cells in the pancreas as foreign, but without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood and starves the cells of it. This can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys, heart, eyes and nerves when left untreated.
Of the two forms of diabetes, type 2 is the most common. Usually known as “adult onset” diabetes, it occurs most often in people ages 35 and over. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 can produce some of their own insulin. However, it’s often not enough, or the insulin that is produced still will not allow glucose to enter the cells.
Type 2 diabetes often can occur among people who are overweight, obese, or live a sedentary lifestyle. Diabetes symptoms include issues like sudden weight gain, pain or numbing of the extremities, blurry vision, extreme thirst or increased tiredness.
Common Causes of Diabetes
Diabetes may result when the body insufficiently produces insulin; there’s an absence of insulin altogether; or the body has an inability to use insulin properly. The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, which is a condition when the liver, muscle and fat cells do not use insulin as they should. The pancreas tries to keep up by producing more insulin to help glucose enter cells, but over time it simply can’t produce enough. This results in rising blood glucose levels.
However, some people may be predisposed to diabetes for the following factors:
Genetics and family history. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be caused by certain genetic factors, including obesity. Plus, certain ethnic and racial groups are more prone to developing diabetes, especially African-Americans, American Indians, Hispanics and Latinos, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
Lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet. Living a sedentary lifestyle could greatly contribute to developing type 2 diabetes. Plus, eating an unhealthy diet filled with high fat foods and little fiber can increase the risk.
Being overweight or obese. An unhealthy lifestyle is one of the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. When you’re overweight, your body is even more likely to become insulin resistant. Plus, the location of fat on your body can also make a difference. For example, extra fat around the belly has been linked to insulin resistance.
Knowing the common causes of type 2 diabetes and recognizing the warning signs can help you make changes to your lifestyle and prevent diabetes.
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