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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a set of related diseases in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar (specifically, glucose) in the blood.
Glucose in the blood gives you energy to perform daily activities, walk briskly, run for a bus, ride your bike, take an aerobic exercise class, and perform your day-to-day chores.
- From the foods you eat, glucose in the blood is produced by the liver (an organ on the right side of the abdomen near your stomach).
- In a healthy person, the blood glucose level is regulated by several hormones, including insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. The pancreas secretes other important enzymes that help to digest food.
- Insulin allows glucose to move from the blood into liver, muscle, and fat cells, where it is used for fuel.
- People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes), or both (which occurs with several forms of diabetes).
- In diabetes, glucose in the blood cannot move into cells, so it stays in the blood. This not only harms the cells that need the glucose for fuel, but also harms certain organs and tissues exposed to the high glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes: The body stops producing insulin or produces too little insulin to regulate blood glucose level.
- Type 1 diabetes comprises about 10% of total cases of diabetes in the United States.
- Type 1 diabetes is typically recognized in childhood or adolescence. It used to be known as juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
- Type 1 diabetes can occur in an older individual due to destruction of pancreas by alcohol, disease, or removal by surgery. It also results from progressive failure of the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin.
- People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin treatment to sustain life.
Type 2 diabetes: The pancreas secretes insulin, but the body is partially or completely unable to use the insulin. This is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance. The body tries to overcome this resistance by secreting more and more insulin. People with insulin resistance develop type 2 diabetes when they do not continue to secrete enough insulin to cope with the higher demands.
- At least 90% of patients with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is typically recognized in adulthood, usually after age 45 years. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes mellitus, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. These names are no longer used because type 2 diabetes does occur in younger people, and some people with type 2 diabetes need to use insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes is usually controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and oral medications. More than half of all people with type 2 diabetes require insulin to control their blood sugar levels at some point in the course of their illness.