Diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar, known as glucose, to be too high. Glucose comes mainly from the food you eat. The cells of your body need glucose for energy, but for your cells to take glucose out of your blood, you need a hormone called insulin, which is made in your pancreas. If you have diabetes, your body does not make any insulin, does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly.

There are three types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes because this type usually occurs in children or young adults. With type 1 diabetes, your body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. If you have this type:

  • Your body does not make any insulin
  • You will need daily injections of insulin to control your blood sugar
  • The cause may be a combination of genes passed down through your family and something that triggers the genes to become active

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type. About 90 percent of people with diabetes have type 2. This type can develop at any age but usually occurs in people older than 45. If you have this type:

  • Your pancreas does not make enough insulin or your body's cells become resistant to insulin and ignore it.
  • You might be able to manage your diabetes with lifestyle changes. Or, you may also need medication, including oral medication and sometimes insulin injections.
  • The cause may be a combination of genes you inherit and lifestyle factors like being overweight and not getting enough exercise

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy. It goes away after the baby is born.

If you have this type:

  • You may have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
  • The cause may be a combination of pregnancy hormones, genes and lifestyle factors like excess weight and too little exercise.
  • You may be able to manage this type with diet and physical activity. Sometimes, medication is also needed.

Symptoms and Complications

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually start quickly. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may take years to develop. You could have type 2 or gestational diabetes and have no symptoms. If you do develop symptoms, they may include:

  • Thirst
  • Hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Wounds that heal slowly
  • Frequent skin, gum, bladder or vaginal infections
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems so it’s important to manage your condition. Complications associated with diabetes include:

  • Eye damage that can lead to blindness
  • Gum damage that can result in tooth loss
  • Kidney damage that can lead to kidney failure
  • Nerve damage that can cause tingling, numbness or pain Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Amputation of toes or feet because of nerve and blood vessel damage