What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Only 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Without sufficient insulin, the body builds up glucose instead of breaking it down into fuel for your cells. When this happens, the body becomes starved for energy, and after time it can cause damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in adulthood. Obesity is the main cause of Type 2 diabetes, but it is also genetic and more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women who have never had diabetes before experience high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It is thought that hormones in the placenta block insulin from acting in the mother’s body, causing a buildup of glucose. According to recent data, gestational diabetes affects 18% of pregnancies. Gestational diabetes does not lead to the same birth complications as seen when mother’s have diabetes before a pregnancy occurs, but it can still put a baby at risk for being born overweight, having low blood sugar levels, and possibly developing breathing problems.