What Is Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that affects your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels. There are several types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes. Previously referred to as juvenile diabetes because of its tendency to develop during childhood or adolescence, type 1 diabetes can actually develop at any age. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that allows for the movement of sugar (food) into the body’s cells, resulting in dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood that the body cannot convert into energy. This is thought to be caused by the body’s immune cells mistakenly attacking and destroying the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas, though research on the exact cause is still ongoing. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation reports that as many as three million American have type 1 diabetes. The number of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. each year is more than 15,000. Of the people in the U.S. who are living with type 1 diabetes, 85% are adults and 15% are children. The prevalence of type 1 diabetes in children and teens between 2001 and 2009 increased by 23%.

Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes typically develops later in life, which is why it was once referred to as adult-onset diabetes. It is thought to be caused by either insufficient insulin production (like type 1 diabetes) or by the body resisting the effects of insulin. Without proper treatment, patients with type 2 diabetes suffer the side effects of high blood sugar, like fatigue and increased hunger, thirst, and urination. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 10 American adults has type 2 diabetes. For people 65 and older, the rate is one in four. An estimated seven million people with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed. From 2008 to 2009, 22% of American children and teens were reported to have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing health concern in America. The American Diabetes Association reports that the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. increased by 128% from 1988 to 2008, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans will have type 2 diabetes by 2050.

Gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy that make the body more insulin intolerable. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause serious complications for both mother and child. It typically develops around 24 weeks and goes away after giving birth, though women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, reported rates of gestational diabetes range from 2% to 10% of pregnancies. In most cases, symptoms of gestational diabetes disappear immediately after pregnancy – only 5 to 10% of women with gestational diabetes remain diabetic (typically type 2 diabetics). However, gestational diabetes does raise the risk of developing diabetes in later years. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35% to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10–20 years. Recently implemented diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes will increase the proportion of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Using these new diagnostic criteria, an international, multi-center study of gestational diabetes found that gestational diabetes actually affects 18% of pregnancies.

What Causes Diabetes

Risk Factors For Diabetes

Diagnosing Diabetes

Symptoms of Diabetes


Living With Diabetes



Medication And Treatment

Complementary and Alternative Treatment

Care Guide

When To Contact A Doctor

Questions For Your Doctor

Questions For A Doctor