Diabetes Causes & Treatments

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that enables cells to absorb glucose and use it as energy. Diabetes is both an endocrine and a metabolic disease.


Diabetes is serious and common, with startling facts around this growing condition.


  • Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2019, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states 37.3 million Americans, or 11 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes, but 8.5 million, or 23 percent of adults, remain undiagnosed.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 15 million women in the United States have diabetes, or about 1 in every 9 adult women.
  • 48 percent of Americans age 65 and older have prediabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in 2022.
  • Prediabetes is estimated to affect 96 million Americans age 20 and older, 38 percent of the adult U.S. population.

Nationally Recognized

Houston Methodist Hospital is ranked best in Texas and No. 4 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for Diabetes & Endocrinology. U.S. News & World Report has also named Houston Methodist Hospital one of the nation’s best as a nationally ranked Honor Roll hospital.  Learn more.

World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day is marked every year on November 14, the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting who discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922. Learn more here

What causes diabetes?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes, but genes and environment are factors in both.


  • Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes occurs in individuals who produce little or no insulin, which is the hormone that helps convert blood sugar into energy. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and other unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease.
  • Type 2 (noninsulin-dependent) diabetes is the most common type in the United States and occurs when your body produces insufficient insulin to properly regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes risk is increased by being obese or overweight, but most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.


What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Like most medical conditions, early diagnosis is the best course of treatment. Seek help from a medical professional if you have these signs or symptoms of prediabetes or diabetes:


  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Abnormal hunger
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Dry skin and frequent infections
  • Slow-healing cuts or wounds


Diabetes can cause serious complications, such as the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease and kidney failure
  • Eye problems and blindness
  • Amputation of feet and legs not related to accidents or injury

How is diabetes treated?

While there is currently no cure for diabetes, both type 1 and type 2 can be managed. If you follow doctor’s orders, the disease should not get in the way of living a long, healthy life. If you are overweight or obese, you can lose weight with medical supervision. If your cholesterol is high, medications combined with exercise and a healthy diet can decrease levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also known as bad cholesterol.

Controlling your weight and cholesterol can also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

At Houston Methodist we provide individualized care to patients suffering from diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol and their related complications. Our specialists at Houston Methodist — nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association as an effective partner to prevent diabetes — provide patient education to increase awareness of this often hidden disease. The physicians and health care professionals at Houston Methodist use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat all forms of diabetes-related disorders to give you the normal, healthy life you deserve.

Diabetes Education Booklet

Learn more by downloading the Houston Methodist My Diabetes Booklet:

Diabetes Education Booklet in English

Diabetes Education Booklet in Spanish


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