Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is not able to control the amount of glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood. Glucose is needed by the body to produce energy, but too much glucose leads to serious problems. Glucose levels are normally controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. With diabetes,there is either not enough insulin produced or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced. There are two main types of diabetes, type1 and type 2. Type 2 is also called non-insulin dependent diabetes and is the most common type (about ninety percent to ninety-five percent of people with diabetes). It often affects people over age 40. Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes. About 5% to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. It can develop at any age, but often occurs in children, teenagers, or young adults.


  • Many people don’t know they have diabetes. There may be no symptoms or symptoms develop gradually.
  • Fatigue and excess thirst.
  • General ill feeling, increased appetite, weight loss, and frequent urination.
  • Irritability.
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction).
  • Increased risk of infections, such as urinary-tract infections and yeast infections of the skin, mouth, or vagina.


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have “prediabetes”—blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.


  • In type 1 diabetes, little or no insulin is made by the pancreas. It is one of a group of autoimmune disorders. In these disorders, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body itself. Why this occurs is unknown. Other possible factors include a viral infection or an injury to the pancreas.
  • In type 2 the pancreas may produce enough insulin, but, for unknown reasons, the body is unable to use it effectively (insulin resistance).several years, insulin production decreases and glucose builds up in the blood.

Picture: Is a model of what happens in the body of a Type 2 Diabetic


  • Family history of diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).
  • Overweight, especially with fat around the abdomen.
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Sedentary lifestyle (lack of physical activity).
  • Metabolic syndrome (a set of conditions).
  • African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans.


  • Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.
  • Control weight (lose weight if you are overweight). Exercise regularly. Eat a healthy diet. Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.


There is no cure. Symptoms and progress of the disease can be controlled with a treatment program


  • Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, such as stroke, atherosclerosis, and coronary-artery disease.
  • Kidney damage.
  • Blindness.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy).
  • Peripheral vascular disease, with gangrene in legs and feet, and sexual impotence in men.
  • Life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if too much insulin is used.
  • Life-threatening ketoacidosis (very high blood sugar) with breakdown of body cells.



Your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms. Tests include glucose blood and urine studies. A glucose tolerance test may be done. Follow-up includes hemoglobin A1C test. It shows the blood glucose levels for the past three months.

  • Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, exercise, and diet. Because of the risk of heart disease, controlling cholesterol levels is also important. A diabetes educator can help you learn to manage your diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes (exercise and diet) and drug therapy, if needed. A diabetes educator can help you learn to manage your diabetes.
  • Learn all you can about diabetes. Learn the techniques of self-monitoring of blood sugar and monitor regularly. Learn the signs and symptoms of high and low blood glucose levels and what to do. Keep glucose tablets handy for treating low blood sugar, if needed.
  • Get regular foot care by a foot care provider (e.g., podiatrist) and regular eye checkups.
  • Stop smoking. Find a way to quit that works for you.
  • Wear a medical alert-type bracelet or neck tag to indicate you have diabetes and the drugs you take.
  • Get medical care for any infection.


  • One or more types of oral antidiabetic drugs may be prescribed. Your health care provider will discuss the options, the benefits, and the risks with you.Insulin may be prescribed if oral drugs are not effective.
  • Insulin (by injection or insulin pump) will be prescribed. Instructions will be provided. Dosage depends on the individual and sometimes needs adjustment.
  • Aspirin, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure may be prescribed.


A healthy diet is part of treatment. Don’t skip meals. A dietitian can help you with meal plans.


  • You or a family member has symptoms of diabetes.
  • After diagnosis, any symptoms cause you concern or problems occur with glucose control.

Disclaimer: Content from: Moore, Griffith’s Instructions for Patients. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. The contents are for informational purposes only and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Wapmed does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned here.