Introduction to Diabetes

Millions of individuals throughout the world suffer with diabetes, a chronic metabolic illness. It is a metabolic disorder characterized by insufficient insulin synthesis, which raises blood glucose levels. Diabetes has a wide range of potential causes and risk factors, some of which are avoidable.

3/2/20234 min read

black smartphone beside white plastic bottle and black smartphone
black smartphone beside white plastic bottle and black smartphone
Introduction to Diabetes and its Prevalence

Diabetes mellitus, is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high levels of glucose or sugar in the blood. The pancreas produces insulin, which is a hormone responsible for regulating the sugar levels in the blood.

In diabetic patients, either the production of insulin is inadequate, or the cells do not respond to insulin. As a result, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream, leading to a host of complications. In this essay, we will explore diabetes and its prevalence worldwide.

Causes of Diabetes

There are several risk factors that raise the possibility of having diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

The loss of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as a result of an autoimmune reaction is thought to be the etiology of type 1 diabetes. The combination of genetic and environmental variables, such as exposure to viruses or other environmental factors that may activate the immune system, is what causes an autoimmune reaction.

Type 2 Diabetes

The root cause of type 2 diabetes is multifaceted, with both hereditary and environmental factors contributing. The following are a few of the recognized risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

  • Obesity or overweight: One of the most significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese.

  • Sedentary living: A sedentary lifestyle and a lack of physical activity might raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • Family history: Having diabetes in your family might make you more likely to have the disease.

  • Age: Beyond the age of 45, there is a significant rise in the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • Ethnicity: Several racial and ethnic groups are more likely to acquire type 2 diabetes than others, including Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.

  • Diabetes during pregnancy: Women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to go on to have type 2 diabetes in the future.

  • Additional medical diseases: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are a few disorders that might raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes: This occurs during pregnancy when a woman's blood sugar levels are elevated due to hormonal changes. It is brought on by hormonal changes that stop insulin from working as it should.

Being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, PCOS, high blood pressure, and a history of gestational diabetes in prior pregnancies are all possible risk factors for this form of diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes

High blood sugar levels can make the body drain more fluids, which can result in dehydration and increased thirst. They can also induce frequent urination. Moreover, it may lead to more frequent urination. 

  • Fatigue: Diabetes patients who cannot use sugar as a source of energy may develop weariness.

  • Vision hazard: Blood sugar levels that are too high might enlarge the eye's lens, impairing vision.

  • Cuts and wounds take longer to heal: High blood sugar levels might make it harder for the body to fight off infections and repair wounds.

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet: High blood sugar levels over time can harm the body's nerves, resulting in tingling or numbness in the extremities.

  • Unexpected weight loss: Because type 1 diabetics cannot use sugar as a source of energy, their bodies may burn down muscle and fat for fuel.

  • Hunger: Since the body cannot utilize sugar as a source of energy, people with diabetes may suffer increased hunger.

It is crucial to remember that some diabetics, particularly in the beginning stages, may not exhibit any symptoms. To monitor for diabetes, it is advised to undergo routine checkups and blood testing.


Risk Factors for Diabetes
  • Age

  • Ethnicity

  • Family history

  • Gender are all risk factors for diabetes.

  • Those over 45 have an increased chance of having diabetes. Hence age is a risk factor.

  • Black Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are more likely to have diabetes.

  • Due to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women who have had gestational diabetes, gender also has a significant impact.


Complications of Uncontrolled Diabetes

Diabetes has various complications. According to the WHO, diabetes is responsible for roughly 4.2 million deaths annually. Diabetes also has a significant financial impact due to high healthcare expenses and decreased productivity among diabetic individuals.

Nearly every organ in the body is susceptible to the catastrophic and protracted effects of uncontrolled diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes frequently leads to several problems, including:


  • Cardiovascular disease: Heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease are just a few examples of the cardiovascular conditions that uncontrolled diabetes can cause to manifest. Blood vessels can be harmed by high blood sugar levels, which also raises the risk of atherosclerosis (arterial hardening), which can result in heart disease and stroke.

  • Neuropathy: When diabetes can result in neuropathy, a condition that damages the nerves and causes numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the hands and feet. Neuropathy can interfere with digestion and bowel motions by affecting the digestive tract.

  • Kidney damage: Uncontrolled diabetes has the potential to harm the kidneys, resulting in chronic renal disease or kidney failure. High blood sugar levels can harm the tiny blood arteries of the kidneys, making it more difficult for them to perform their essential job of filtering waste items from the blood.

  • Eye damage: Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, which can cause diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma, among other vision issues.

  • Foot damage: Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of foot ulcers and infections by causing nerve damage and impaired circulation in the feet. In extreme circumstances, an amputation may result.

  • Skin complications: Skin infections, fungal infections, and poor wound healing are more common in those with uncontrolled diabetes.

  • Gum disease and other dental issues are more likely in those with uncontrolled diabetes.

  • Obstetrical complications: uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Diabetes has many risk factors, some of which can be avoided. To lower the chance of acquiring diabetes, a healthy lifestyle, and preventative steps must be adopted. Obesity, being overweight, and inactivity, are the main causes of type 2 diabetes and can be avoided by regular exercise and proper eating habits. To catch diabetes early on, it's also critical to control stress, maintain a healthy weight, and have frequent exams. e



World Health Organization: Retrieved from