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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of metabolic conditions in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.

This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger).


There are four main types of diabetes:


  • Type 1 (Fig. 1) results from the body's failure to produce insulin, and currently requires the person to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This form was previously referred to as "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (IDDM) or "juvenile diabetes".
  • Type 2 (Fig. 2) results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency. This form was previously referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or "adult-onset diabetes".
  • The third main form, gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women without a previous diagnosis of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level. It may precede development of type 2.
  • The fourth main form, Prediabetes refers to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Although not everyone diagnosed with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, many people will.
    1. The Stomach converts food into glucose.
    2. Glucose enters the bloodstream.
    3. The pancreas makes little or no insulin.
    4. Little or no insulin enters the bloodstream.
    5. Glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
    1. The Stomach converts food into glucose.
    2. Glucose enters the bloodstream.
    3. The pancreas makes insulin.
    4. The insulin enters the bloodstream.
    5. Glocose can't get into the cells of the body. Glucose builds up in the the blood vesels.