Metabolic Health

Causes & Symptoms Of Diabetes Mellitus

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

We often hear someone or the other getting diagnosed with Diabetes, something we know is related to sugar in our body. In India, the slang term for this disease is often ‘sugar’. However, we often do not understand the nuances and complications that can be associated with diabetes. This is why, at times, we are also lax in the way we deal with it. We do not work well to prevent this disease, especially in today’s times wherein we eat all kinds of junk food and rarely exercise as much as required. To be able to effectively deal with and prevent this disease, we need to understand why it may occur. What exactly is diabetes and what are the causes and symptoms of diabetes mellitus? Let’s find out.

Diabetes is a condition that develops when your blood glucose, commonly known as blood sugar, is abnormally high. Glucose is your primary source of energy, and it is derived from the foods you consume each day. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, aids in the transport of glucose from meals into your cells, where it is utilized for energy. It is possible that your body does not produce enough insulin, or that it does not utilize insulin properly. This causes glucose to remain in your bloodstream and not reach your cells – resulting in high levels. This is what is the real cause of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune illness that affects the pancreas. The immune system targets and kills insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, which is where the hormone is produced. It is yet unknown what causes this onslaught. This kind of diabetes affects around 10% of all diabetics. The second one, type 2 diabetes is when your body develops insulin resistance, causing sugar to accumulate in your bloodstream.

Potentially reversible diabetes disorders include prediabetes and gestational diabetes. When your blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be categorized as diabetes, you have prediabetes and unless adequate actions are taken to prevent its development, prediabetes is frequently the forerunner to diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels throughout pregnancy. This kind of diabetes is caused by insulin-blocking substances generated by the placenta during pregnancy. What are all the symptoms of diabetes may differ slightly based on the type of diabetes one has, but the fluctuations in the sugar levels remain constant. 

Having an excessive amount of sugar or glucose in your bloodstream might lead to some very severe health complications over time. Even though diabetes has no known cure, this condition can be managed and controlled over time.

Symptoms Of Diabetes

Now that we have a general idea of diabetes, let’s find out what are the common symptoms of diabetes. These symptoms may vary from person to person so be sure to consult a specialist. Here are the common symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Increased Hunger
  • Increased Thirst
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Frequent Urination
  • Blurry Vision
  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Sores That Don’t Heal
  • Frequent Infections

To understand what are the causes and symptoms of diabetes mellitus may not be that straightforward as the symptoms may vary. Some people may develop the symptoms over time – T2D or it may also happen very quickly without any warning (auto-immune) T1D. 

Causes Of Diabetes

After learning what are all the symptoms of diabetes, let’s take a look at what is the real cause of diabetes. There may, at times, be several causes instead of one real cause (like pregnancy for gestational diabetes)

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness that impairs the body's ability to produce insulin. Doctors are still unsure of what causes type 1 diabetes. The immune system misinterprets and attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas for unknown reasons, leading to their demise. In certain people, this development may be influenced by their genes. Another possibility is that a virus triggers the immune system to start an attack on the body.

In prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, cells grow resistant to insulin, and the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Glucose builds up in your bloodstream instead of flowing into your cells for energy.  It's unclear why this happens, although genetic and environmental variables are suspected to have a role. Obesity is significantly connected to type 2 diabetes, yet not all diabetics are obese. Lifestyle-related factors, unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, massive amounts of stress, smoking, excessive alcohol abuse, etc might all be contributing factors to this disease. 

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When to Consult a Doctor

Upon understanding what are the causes and symptoms of diabetes mellitus, you may have an idea of how things work and what are the warning signs. Here are a few scenarios when you must consult a doctor, no matter how insignificant the symptom might seem:

  • Pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling — especially in the hands, feet, arms, or legs: These tiny sensations may be a sign of early nerve damage. In this situation, the symptoms may intensify as the nerves become damaged.
  • Constipation, bloating, nausea, difficulty seeing, even at night or when the light changes, or sexual disorders can all be indicators of nerve dysfunction.
  • Diabetes can impair your body's capacity to heal itself, whether it's a chronic sinus, bladder, or ongoing vaginal infection.
  • Make an appointment if your blood glucose stays above 240 mg/dL despite taking your medication and/or increasing insulin and fluids, or if you are having difficulty remaining in range.
  • Consult your doctor if you have signs of ketoacidosis or dehydration, such as increased stomach discomfort, difficulty breathing, or breath that smells fruity or like acetone.


If you are worried about the symptoms of diabetes, it is advisable to visit your doctor at the earliest and get diagnostic tests done. Since the onset of diabetes is known to affect many health parameters in the body, your diagnostics will need to be comprehensive and including other tests like – thyroid panel, kidney function test, liver function test, vitamins, electrolytes, etc. Read more about the difference between type 1 and 2 diabetes.

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