Diabetes is a chronic disease resulting in high blood sugar levels. A distinction is made between type 1 diabetes, which manifests itself in childhood or adolescence, type 2 diabetes generally occurring after the age of 40, and gestational diabetes during pregnancy. What are their respective symptoms? How to treat them?


Whatever its type, diabetes is a disorder in the assimilation and use of sugars contained in food and which provide the energy essential for the body to function.

The insulin , a hormone produced by the pancreas, normally allows glucose to enter the cells of the body for it to be transformed into energy. When insulin is insufficient, the whole system goes wrong.

Badly assimilated, sugars then accumulate in the blood. The glycemia, which makes it possible to measure the presence of glucose (sugar) in the blood, becomes too high: the level is greater than 1.26 g / l (7.7 mmol / l) when dosing on an empty stomach or greater than 2g / l at any time of the day. This is called hyperglycemia .

Ultimately, this hyperglycemia can cause complications that can be serious, especially in the blood vessels, heart, eyes, kidneys … People with diabetes are more at risk of developing an infection. It is also possible that too high hyperglycemia can lead to coma.

Three types of diabetes

The type 1 diabetes , also called insulin-dependent diabetes , affects less than 10% of the population and occurs in childhood or adolescence, sometimes into adulthood.

The most common type 2 diabetes manifests later, from the age of 40.

Finally, diabetes can develop during pregnancy, it is gestational diabetes . In the vast majority of cases, it goes away after childbirth.

Diabetes has experienced an unprecedented development for several years, with the World Health Organization going so far as to use the term ” epidemic “.

Cause (s)

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas, due to the self-destruction of some of its cells called  islets of Langerhans , is totally or partially unable to make insulin. It is an autoimmune disease . The cause of the destruction of the islets of Langerhans is not well known.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin well, but it does not act well, the body becomes resistant to insulin .

There is a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes  : having a diabetic parent doubles the risk. Taking certain medications, hormonal or pancreatic disease may be to blame.

Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • lack of physical activity;
  • obesity or significant weight gain;
  • the existence of a history of gestational diabetes;
  • a child born weighing more than 4 kg.

The roles of diet and lifestyle in triggering this diabetes have been clearly demonstrated.


Type 2 diabetes is a silent disease , meaning it develops without symptoms for many years. It can be detected during an ordinary biological control examination. Otherwise, it is when the first complications appear that the diagnosis is made.

As for type 1 diabetes , which affects young people, its main manifestations are:

  • intense thirst;
  • strong urges to urinate,
  • rapid and unexplained weight loss.

It requires emergency diagnosis, especially for children.

Prevention tip (s)

Unlike type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disease, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by acting on the factors that promote it, namely an unbalanced diet and a sedentary lifestyle .

In case of overweight, a major risk factor for this diabetes, it is strongly recommended to lose weight by following a suitable diet and by practicing regular physical activity .


The diagnosis of diabetes is based on:
– measurement of glycemia (blood sugar level) on an empty stomach or after absorption of a sugar solution;
– a complete medical examination in order to detect possible complications.

Treatment (s)

Regardless of the type of diabetes, the goal of treatment is to normalize blood sugar levels to prevent serious complications associated with this disease.

The treatment of type 1 diabetes involves providing the body with the insulin it lacks, since the pancreas is unable to manufacture it. The daily administration of insulin is by subcutaneous injection (the doses are adapted according to the physical activities and the diet) or via an insulin pump.

The management of type 2 diabetes relies, first of all, on the follow-up of an adapted diet and the practice of a regular physical activity. The therapeutic education of the patient is an important element of this management.

If these measures are not enough to lower the blood sugar level, the doctor will prescribe oral medication, not insulin . Health recommendations recommend prescribing metformin alone as a first-line treatment. As type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, dual therapy and then triple therapy may be considered later on the basis of a combination of metformin and sulphonylurea.

When oral treatments are no longer sufficient, insulin becomes the standard treatment