Diabetes occurs when the body has trouble using the sugar it gets from food for energy. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar can have immediate effects, like blurry vision. It can also cause problems over time, like heart disease and blindness.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes (once called juvenile-onset diabetes) and type 2 diabetes (once called adult-onset diabetes). Both are caused by problems making or using insulin, a hormone that makes it possible for cells to use glucose, also known as blood sugar, for energy.

When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into a simple sugar called glucose. It also produces a hormone called insulin that signals the body's cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make enough insulin, or stops making it altogether. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells don't respond to insulin. Either way, since sugar can't get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. 

Too much sugar in the blood can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. These include:

  • blurry vision
  • intense thirst
  • need to urinate often
  • fatigue
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

Type 1 diabetes often comes on suddenly. It usually strikes children and teenagers, but can appear later in life. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning it happens because the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the body's insulin-making cells. Type 1 diabetes can't be cured, but it can be managed by taking insulin before eating.

Type 2 diabetes takes longer to develop. It can begin any time from childhood onward. Type 2 diabetes is usually triggered by being overweight or obese and not getting much physical activity. Treatment for type 2 diabetes includes weight loss if needed, daily exercise, a healthy diet, and medications.

Diabetes Articles

Researchers explore psoriasis-diabetes link

People with the chronic irritated, flaky skin condition called psoriasis may also be at risk for another chronic disease: type 2 diabetes. Both diseases are driven by inflammation. The same cells that trigger the inflammation of psoriasis are also associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Because psoriasis is a systemwide inflammatory disease, there’s also a correlation between psoriasis and other inflammation-sensitive conditions such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease. People with psoriasis are advised to pay attention to cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. They are also advised to get yearly blood pressure checks and laboratory assessment of blood sugar and fats. (Locked) More »

Potential cure for type 1 diabetes

A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital has confirmed that a vaccine designed to raise levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) temporarily restores insulin secretion in people with type 1 diabetes. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctors: Do I have diabetes?

A high blood glucose level may signal increased risk of diabetes, but in the absence of common symptoms of diabetes, a hemoglobin A1c test may provide a more accurate diagnosis. (Locked) More »

Can coffee help you live longer?

  Coffee may be part of a longer, healthier life. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, older adults who drank coffee (caffeinated or decaf ) had a lower risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and other medical complications than non-coffee drinkers.   More »

Prediabetes is associated with stroke risk

People with higher-than-normal blood glucose levels but who do not have diabetes—a condition known as prediabetes—may be at a higher risk of stroke. A diagnosis of prediabetes should sound a warning to better manage weight, diet, and exercise, which may contribute to diabetes and stroke. (Locked) More »