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Diabetes (Mellitus, Type 1 and Type 2)

Diabetes Overview

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a set of related diseases in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar (specifically, glucose) in the blood.

The blood delivers glucose to provide the body with energy to perform all of a person's daily activities.

  • The liver converts the food a person eats into glucose. The glucose is then released into the bloodstream.
  • In a healthy person, the blood glucose level is regulated by several hormones, primarily insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. The pancreas also makes other important enzymes released directly into the gut that helps digest food.
  • Insulin allows glucose to move out of the blood into cells throughout the body where it is used for fuel.
  • People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes), or both (which occurs with several forms of diabetes).
  • In diabetes, glucose in the blood cannot move efficiently into cells, so blood glucose levels remain high. This not only starves all the cells that need the glucose for fuel, but also harms certain organs and tissues exposed to the high glucose levels.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

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