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Causes of Diabetes Mellitus

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Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects the usage of blood sugar or glucose by your body. Glucose is vital for your health because it is an important source of energy for the cells of the body that make up your muscles and tissues. It is also an important source of fuel for your brain. If you are suffering from diabetes, no matter whatever is the type, it means you have excess sugar in your blood, which can lead to serious health problems.

Causes of Diabetes Mellitus

  • Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes happens when your immune system which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses, damages the beta cells in the pancreas resulting in low insulin levels. Instead of sugar being transported into your cells for its functioning it builds up in your bloodstream. Type 1 Diabetes is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, though many of the factors are not really clear.

  • Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes

Pre-diabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to the action of insulin and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells where it is needed for energy, sugar builds up in your bloodstream.

Why this happens is uncertain, although it is believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight.

  • Gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain the pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin. Normally, your pancreas responds by producing enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance. But sometimes your pancreas cannot meet the requirement. When this happens, too little glucose gets into your cells and too much stays in your blood, resulting in gestational diabetes. Women older than age 25 are at increased risk. Being overweight before pregnancy increases your risk. Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a baby's death either before or shortly after birth.

Once you've had gestational diabetes in one pregnancy, you're more likely to have it again with the next pregnancy. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as you get older.

Certain risk factors which could lead to Type1 / Type 2 diabetes are:

  • Family history: Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1/ type 2 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
  • Genetics: The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 / type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: Although Type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it is mostly seen in children between 4 and 7 years old.  The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45. That's probably because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing dramatically among children, adolescents and younger adults.
  • Weight: Being overweight increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. However, a person who is not overweight could also develop Type 2 diabetes.
  • Inactivity: The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Polycystic ovarian Disease: Polycystic ovarian Disease is a condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity. In young women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. Having insulin resistance can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
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