Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is unknown, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

The two major forms of diabetes are:

  • Type 1:  previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t not produce insulin.  The condition can severely damage the kidneys and pancreas.
  • Type 2: previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or maturity-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 of 95 percent of cases) occurs when your body fails to use insulin properly.  When suffering from this condition the body does not respond properly to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates how the body converts glucose (sugar) into energy.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes share one central feature: elevated blood glucose levels due to absolute or relative insufficiencies of insulin. In some cases, diabetes can lead to damage that makes an organ transplant necessary. 

Learn more about diabetes

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