About diabetes

 

Definition of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes Can Be Silent

Diabetes can go silently undetected for a long time without symptoms. Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease, blindness or nerve disease.

Fortunately, diabetes can be managed with proper care. Diabetes is a chronic (life-long) condition that can have serious consequences. However, with careful attention to your blood sugar control, lifestyle modifications and medications, you can manage your diabetes and may avoid many of the problems associated with the disease.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections

Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that starts when the pancreas stops making insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar-also called glucose-enter the body's cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the cells can't get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that happens when the cells of the body can't use insulin the right way or when the pancreas can't make enough insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar-also called glucose-enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. When insulin is not able to do its job, the cells can't get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this extra sugar in the blood can damage your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy as a result of excessive hormone production in the body, or the pancreas' inability to make the additional insulin that is needed during some pregnancies in women without a previous history of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for later developing Type 2 diabetes. Researchers have identified a small percentage of diabetes cases that result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses and other illnesses.

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