What is Diabetes and what causes it? (Definition)

There are three main types of diabetes. These include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. A diabetes diagnosis means there are problems with the hormone insulin, which results in your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels being too high. Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. Having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin.

In type 1 diabetes, your body (pancreas) does not make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. The CDC estimates that 1.25M Americans are living with T1D including about 200,000 youth.

With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy. Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly over time. Most people with the disease are overweight or obese when they are diagnosed. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high. During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your body’s need for insulin. If your pancreas can’t make enough insulin, you will have gestational diabetes. In many cases, gestational diabetes gets resolved following delivery.

You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

As yet, there is no cure for diabetes although medical researchers are finding new answers every day.

For more information regarding diabetes including research and treatments, please visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes symptoms will vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated. People with type 2 diabetes, may not experience symptoms initially or will experience only mild symptoms.  In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe.

Some of the signs and symptoms caused by type 1 and type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, increased appetite, fatigue, blurred vision, sores which heal slowly, frequent infections, sugar in the urine, labored breathing, tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet, and a fruity or sweet odor on the breath.

If you are at risk for diabetes and / or experience symptoms of diabetes, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away.

For more information regarding diabetes symptoms, please visit the American Diabetes Association website.

See below for updated news and information regarding Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes including new research, treatment options and advancements. 

Latest Diabetes News

Diabetes damages small blood vessels around the heart and thus increases the risk of a heart attack

(SOURCE: TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF MUNICH) - Vanishing capillaries Diabetes damages small blood vessels around the heart and increases the risk of a heart attack Diabetics have a significantly higher risk of suffering a heart attack. A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now identified one of the causes: Diabetes is associated with the loss of small blood vessels ...
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Dual-drug combination shows promise against diabetic eye disease in animal model

(SOURCE: UF HEALTH) - A two-drug cocktail provided better protection against diabetes-related vision loss than a single drug during testing in rat models, a team of University of Florida Health and Dutch researchers has found. Researchers say the drug combination is a promising and unique potential treatment for patients with diabetic retinopathy, a major cause of vision loss in middle-age diabetes ...
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Gene variants associated with body shape increase risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes

(SOURCE: MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL) - A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers has found that a pattern of gene variants associated with an “apple-shaped” body type, in which weight is deposited around the abdomen, rather than in the hips and thighs, increases the risk for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, as well as the incidence of several cardiovascular ...
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Immune receptor that’s typically activated by bacteria is a major contributor to bladder dysfunction in diabetes

(SOURCE: AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY) - Bladder dysfunction is a reality for about half of patients with diabetes and now scientists have evidence that an immune system receptor that’s more typically activated by bacteria is a major contributor. In the face of diabetes, scientists have shown for the first time that contents released by dying cells activate Toll-like receptor 4, or TLR4, a ...
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Continuous glucose monitoring lowers blood sugar in the long term for type 1 diabetes

(SOURCE: UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG) - Significantly decreased blood sugar levels over time - and increased well-being. These are just some of the results of a long-term study at Sahlgrenska Academy of continuous glucose monitoring in persons with type 1 diabetes. "This is one of few new treatments in recent decades which significantly reduces blood sugar levels for persons with type 1 diabetes, ...
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Safe exercise guidelines for type 1 diabetes by int’l team led by York U researcher

(SOURCE: YORK UNIVERSITY) - An international team of researchers and clinicians led by York University Professor Michael Riddell has published a set of guidelines to help people with type 1 diabetes exercise safely to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar. "Regular exercise can help individuals with diabetes to achieve their blood lipid, body composition, fitness and blood sugar goals, but for people living ...
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Diabetes News: Study links prediabetes, diabetes in healthy weight adults to sedentary lifestyle

(SOURCE: UF HEALTH) - Add one more to the long list of reasons to keep active: A new University of Florida study demonstrates that low levels of physical activity are associated with higher blood sugar among adults who are at a healthy weight. The findings, which appear online ahead of print in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, may help explain ...
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Diabetes Research News: Diabetes impairs activity of bone stem cells in mice, inhibits fracture repair

(SOURCE: STANFORD UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER) - Stanford researchers found that activating bone stem cells helps repair fractures in diabetic mice. Applying a protein to the fracture site increased the expression of key signaling proteins and enhanced healing in the animals. Bone fractures in diabetic mice heal better in the presence of a protein that stimulates the activity of skeletal stem ...
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Diabetes Research News: Study Suggests Route to Improve Artery Repair

(SOURCE: JOSLIN DIABETES CENTER) - Research may point towards more effective surgical stents for people with diabetes. People with any form of diabetes are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular conditions than people without the disease. Moreover, if they undergo an operation to open up a clogged artery by inserting a “stent” surgical tube, the artery is much more likely to clog ...
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Diabetes Research: Fenofibrate may reduce heart disease risk in some patients with type 2 diabetes

(SOURCE: NIH/NATIONAL HEART, LUNG AND BLOOD INSTITUTE) - A new study shows that the drug fenofibrate might reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes who have high levels of triglycerides and low levels of “good” cholesterol, despite being treated with statins. The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), appears in the December ...
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Diabetes Support

American Diabetes Association

Joslin Diabetes Center


Diabetes Treatment Guidelines

Mayo Clinic


National Diabetes Education Initiative

National Institutes of Health – Intensive Diabetes Treatment and Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes


National Institutes of Health – Effect of intensive diabetes treatment on albuminuria in type 1 diabetes: long-term follow-up of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study


National Institutes of Health – Intensive glucose control versus conventional glucose control for type 1 diabetes mellitus


National Institutes of Health – New glycemic targets for patients with diabetes from the Japan Diabetes Society


National Institutes of Health – Impact of disease-management programs on metabolic control in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus


National Institutes of Health – Strategies for Diabetes Management: Using Newer Oral Combination Therapies Early in the Disease


National Institutes of Health – Current progress of human trials using stem cell therapy as a treatment for diabetes mellitus


National Institutes of Health – Status of stem cells in diabetic nephropathy: predictive and preventive potentials