Etiology of Diabetes Mellitus – Learn The Causes Diabetes

The etiology of diabetes mellitus varies among the different types of diabetes. The most prevalent type of diabetes is type 2, while type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10% of all diabetic cases and gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnant women.

Diabetes mellitus "is a condition in which a person has a high blood sugar (glucose) level, either because the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or because body cells don't properly respond to the insulin that is produced."(1)

Etiology of diabetes mellitus type 1

Type 1 diabetes mellitus results because the body is no longer able to produce insulin. This can be caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the body turns against itself and attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas causing them damage.

The reason for this is not well understood but may be linked to a viral or bacterial infection or exposure to a toxin.

There are no known measures that can be taken to prevent type 1 diabetes and this disease can strike people who are considered to be in relatively good health. Because type 1 diabetes can develop in children it is sometimes referred to as “juvenile diabetes”.

Etiology of diabetes mellitus type 2

Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes mellitus does have some known measures that can be taken to help prevent its development. People who are overweight and inactive are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and therefore following a proper diabetes food guide and getting regular exercise can lower the risk.

The etiology of diabetes mellitus is different from type 1. In type 2 diabetes the pancreatic cells produce insulin, however, the cells that are normally receptive to the insulin become less receptive. This condition is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance.

Because of this resistance the pancreatic cells work overtime in an attempt to produce more insulin and overtime become exhausted leading to the development of the disease.

Etiology of diabetes mellitus in pregnant women

A unique type of diabetes mellitus can show up in pregnant women, typically in the last trimester of the pregnancy. This type is called gestational diabetes and is experienced by approximately 4% of all pregnant women.

Risk factors associated with gestational diabetes include being overweight, being a member of an ethnic group including, Asian, African American, Native American or Hispanic; and having a family history of diabetes.

The etiology of diabetes mellitus is different for the different types of diabetes yet signs and symptoms of diabetes may be quite similar regardless of the type. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options available to better control and manage this disease.

(1) Wikipedia (2010). Diabetes mellitus. Retrieved from

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