Since the term is used for more than one kind of medical condition, it follows that what causes diabetes depends on the type. There are 2 kinds of diabetes-type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is the more serious kind because it is genetic in origin, and stays with an affected individual from infancy onwards. There is no cure as yet for this potentially fatal condition, and it cannot be conclusively diagnosed without blood tests. The type 1 version of diabetes prevents the natural production of a hormone known as insulin by the pancreas, a leaf-shaped structure hidden in the bowels of the abdomen. The absence of insulin prevents body cells from accessing glucose for energy from circulating blood, thus interrupting their normal functioning altogether.
There is little we can do to help with the question of what causes diabetes if the disease is inherited with birth. The only way of dealing with this condition is to inject artificially made insulin as a drug in to the blood of a patient. Excess insulin is almost as harmful as none at all, so the insulin dose has to be calibrated carefully with diet and exercise. Management is complicated because this kind of diabetes affects small children, and the prospect of having to take insulin for life can be most daunting. However, doctors do have ways of ensuring that everyone with this kind of diabetes is able to lead productive lives.
Carelessness Is What Causes Diabetes of the Type 2 Variety
Many people need not look far to find out what causes diabetes of the type 2 variety. Obesity and sedentary habits combine with bad eating and drinking habits to cause this kind of diabetes. The pancreas does produce some insulin in this condition, but the body is plied with more energy in the form of fats, sugars, and other sources, which it simply cannot use. Doctors can predict which patients are headed for type 2 diabetes, and people who correct their diets and lifestyles can evade onset of the disease indefinitely. Pregnancy and acute illnesses may precipitate temporary type 2 diabetes, which corrects itself after a body returns to its normal state, but even these transient conditions are harmful, and can be avoided as well.
A significant amount of medical research over the past century has been related to finding out what causes diabetes. It is one of the medical conditions which is easiest to manage. Unfortunately, much depends on patients and their families, and complications set in because they do not follow prescriptions strictly. Similarly, ignorance and the paucity of public health infrastructure obstruct timely detection. Both types of diabetes are silent in their first stages, and the condition is already rather advanced by the time a person can discern that something may be wrong.