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Diabetes *

What is Diabetes?
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
What are the types and risk factors of diabetes?
What is the treatment for diabetes?
Is there a cure for diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of the sugar glucose resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. Diabetes can be associated with serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take measures to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences. It is estimated that today approximately 5.9% or 15.7 million people have diabetes (2).

There are 2 types of diabetes:

Type 1 (IDDM, or Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus)
This type usually occurs in children and young adults and is caused by a lack of insulin production.

Type 2 (NIDDM or Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus)
This type usually occurs in adults and is brought on by your body not producing enough insulin or your cells rejecting it. Type 1 is treated with a daily insulin shot while the treatment of type 2 varies with each person. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and circulation problems that can result in lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. [ To Top ]

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for diagnosis. They might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual
Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt onset of type 1 diabetes. [ To Top ]
What are the types and risk factors of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes. Type 1 diabetes may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Risk factors are less well defined for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes, but autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in the development of this type of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • older age
  • obesity
  • family history of diabetes
  • prior history of gestational diabetes
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • physical inactivity
  • race/ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes)
Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 5% of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently in African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and people with a family history of diabetes. Obesity is also associated with higher risk. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk for later developing type 2 diabetes. In some studies, nearly 40% of women with a history of gestational diabetes developed diabetes in the future.

Other specific types of diabetes result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses. Such types of diabetes may account for 1% to 2% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. [ To Top ]

What is the treatment for diabetes?

Treatment should be planned out by you and your doctor. Treatment is aimed at keeping blood glucose near normal levels at all times. Training in managing your diabetes is integral to maintaining your future health. Treatment must be individualized and must address medical, psychosocial, and lifestyle issues, such as living at college.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes (IDDM)
Lack of insulin production by the pancreas makes Type 1 diabetes particularly difficult to control. Treatment requires a strict regimen that typically includes a carefully calculated diet, planned physical activity, home blood glucose testing several times a day, and multiple daily insulin injections.

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes (NIDDM)
Treatment typically includes diet control, exercise, home blood glucose testing, and in some cases, oral medication and/or insulin. Approximately 40% of people with type 2 diabetes require insulin injections.

Control High Blood Sugar Levels By (3)

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Taking medicine for your diabetes if your doctor tells you to
  • Testing your blood sugar.
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Is there a cure for diabetes?

We have yet to find a cure for diabetes, but everyday research is bringing us closer to advancing our possibilities of preventing, treating, and curing the growing population of people with diabetes. Several approaches to "cure" diabetes are being pursued:

  • Pancreas transplantation
  • Islet cell transplantation (islet cells produce insulin)
  • Artificial pancreas development
  • Genetic manipulation (fat or muscle cells that don't normally make insulin have a human insulin gene inserted - then these "pseudo" islet cells are transplanted into people with type 1 diabetes).
Each of these approaches still has a lot of challenges, such as preventing immune rejection; finding an adequate number of insulin cells; keeping cells alive; and others. But progress is being made in all areas. [ To Top ]
*1 Adapted from


3 Adapted from [ To Top ]

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Information from website should not be a substitute
for medical advice from a health care professional.