Home Diabetes Basics Overview

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism—the way our bodies use digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body.

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Symptoms of Diabetes

The symptoms of diabetes may begin gradually and can be hard to identify at first. They may include fatigue, a sick feeling, frequent urination, especially at night, and excessive thirst. When there is extra glucose in blood, one way the body gets rid of it is through frequent urination. This loss of fluids causes extreme thirst. Other symptoms may include sudden weight loss, blurred vision, and slow healing of skin, gum and urinary tract infections. Women may notice genital itching.

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Pre-Diabetes

Are you one of the estimated 41 million people in this country who have pre-diabetes?

If you have pre-diabetes, you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also are at increased risk of developing heart disease. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as full-blown diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within a decade unless they adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes weight loss and more physical activity.

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Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease results when the body's system for fighting infection (the immune system) turns against a part of the body. In diabetes, the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.

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