Understanding type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes: Symptoms and causes

Understanding type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes: Symptoms and causes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which a person’s body capacity to make use of glucose, protein and fat is altered, due to insulin deficiency. Diabetes is mainly associated with zero production of insulin (Type 1) or the body becomes resistant to the produced insulin (Type 2). The condition therefore requires the sufferer to utilize insulin injections.

The two types of diabetes have different fundamental causal mechanisms and clinical presentation. Generally, young Australian diabetic patients are insulin-deficient (Type 1 diabetes). On the other hand, older Australian diabetic patients secrete sufficient insulin in the early stages, but they tend to demonstrate resistance to insulin (Type 2 diabetes). The third type is gestational diabetes, which is recognized during pregnancy.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes mainly affects children as well as adolescents. This condition is mainly associated with complete deficiency of insulin, and the disorder is called insulin-dependent diabetes. The body’s immune system normally assumes a key role in type 1 diabetes. The immune system produces antibodies, which fight viruses and bacteria.

At times these antibodies attack and kill beta cells that are responsible for insulin production. Advanced research over the years indicates that the disease does not only affect children, but also Australians at any age.

Type-1 diabetes has two forms: idiopathic diabetes mellitus, which in its fully developed clinical expression is defined by fasting hyperglycaemia; and immune-mediated diabetes mellitus, which results from autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells leading to absolute insulin deficiency.

2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes can also be referred to as mature onset diabetes. This condition is much more common when compared to Type 1 Diabetes. This type of diabetes is associated with low production of insulin or the body becomes resistant to its own body insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes is normally diagnosed in older Australian adults, however, the condition is becoming considerably prevalent in the young Australian population. Type 2 is linked with relative insulin deficiency as a result of progressive beta cell failure and insulin resistance. Australians with Type 2 Diabetes may have numbness in their feet and hands, and they may also itch all over their bodies.

This condition has a strong genetic basis, and it is made worse by specific factors, such as inactivity, stress and weight gain. The most certain thing is that most Australians are overweight by the time they are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

This is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Most Australian women are screened for gestational diabetes at twenty four to twenty eight weeks gestation during prenatal care. This condition develops when the body’s capacity to make as well as use insulin is deteriorated.

There are various reasons as to why gestational diabetes may present problems, and they include: the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, which leads to discomfort in the last few months of pregnancy, and possibility of having a large baby leading to caesarean section. Unlike the other two types of diabetes, gestational diabetes is temporary and is known to disappear once the pregnancy is over.

Symptoms of Diabetes

All types of diabetes in Australia have common symptoms but type I symptoms are more severe while those of type II develop slowly. Type 1 diabetes symptoms include: dry mouth, weight loss, rapid breathing, and loss of consciousness, fatigue, ketoacidosis, blurred vision, recurring infections in the organs like the skin, bladder or the skin, abdominal pains, poor concentration, vomiting, excessive hunger, urination and thirst.

Type II diabetes progressively develops the above symptoms but patients also experience the following symptoms: yeast infections, erectile dysfunction in men, weight gain, numbness, sores that are slow to heal, itching along the groin and vaginal area. Gestation diabetes mainly develops due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Hormonal changes affect the capability of insulin to work normally.

Fatigue occurs due to increased urination, which may lead to dehydration which triggers increased thirst. Due to calorie loss in urine and prevention of food to reach the body cell, the individual loses weight and also experiences excessive hunger. Elevated blood sugar levels prevent the eye with fluids, hence swelling of the eye lens. This leads to blurred vision and may also lead to other eye problems such as glaucoma, retinopathy and cataract.

Causes of Diabetes

In type I diabetes: Genetic factors lead to the condition’s development. Infants obtain the genes from their parents. Individuals with a family background of the condition develop the disease in life. Autoimmune destruction of beta cells is also a cause of type 1 diabetes. The destruction arises when the white blood cells also known as the T cells destroy the beta cells.

Environmental factors like toxins or viruses may also cause this disease. They are said to trigger both genetic and autoimmune destruction of beta cell factors. Feeding practices may also lead to infants obtaining type I diabetes. Newborns that are exposed to either cereal proteins or cow’s milk are predisposed to the disease.

Type II diabetes is caused by the following: obesity, which grows due to the difference between an individual’s calorie intake and physical activity. This leads to insulin resistance that means the body does not utilise the insulin produced. In this type patients also suffer from abnormal glucose production by the liver that causes an increase of blood sugar levels. Type II diabetes can also be caused by genetic factors and destruction of beta cells.

Other causes of diabetes that are of significance include: medications like some steroids and diuretics which cause insulin resistance. Specific medical conditions may also be linked to diabetes such as: pancreatic diseases and hormonal disorders of hormones that produce endocrine glands. Trauma or surgery of the pancreas and genetic conditions like Down’s and Turner’s syndrome may also be related to diabetes.

Type II diabetes may also be due to changes in the environment. These variations consist of, but are not limited to, physical activities and alterations in diet, which produce disease in genetically predisposed individuals. One of the foremost challenges is to pinpoint a subpopulation with physical inactivity genes that predispose them to chronic diseases such as diabetes.


1. What is diabetes?: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/Understanding-Diabetes/What-is-Diabetes/

2. What is diabetes: http://www.aihw.gov.au/what-is-diabetes/

3. Diabetes: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pq-diabetes

4. Type 1 diabetes: http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/Understanding-Diabetes/What-is-Diabetes/Type-1-Diabetes/

5. Type 2 diabetes: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Diabetes_Type_2