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Diabetes (Mellitus, Type 1 and Type 2)

Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Quick Overview

  • Diabetes is a condition characterized by the body's inability to regulate glucose (sugar) levels in blood.
  • In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin.
  • People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, but the body is not able to use the insulin effectively.
  • Symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes include
  • The cause of type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune reaction. The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is poorly understood, but it tends to run in families.
  • Diagnostic tests for diabetes include the measurement of blood glucose levels.
  • Changes in lifestyle and diet may be adequate to control some cases of type 2 diabetes. Others with type 2 diabetes require medications. Insulin is the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
  • There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Prevention of type 2 diabetes can be accomplished in some cases by
    • maintaining a healthy weight,
    • exercising, and
    • living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Prediabetes is a condition that can occur before development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Complications of diabetes include damage to blood vessels, leading to heart and kidney disease. Damage to blood vessels in the eye can also result in vision problems. Nerve damage can also occur, leading to diabetic neuropathy.

What is diabetes?

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 6/12/2015

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