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Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal and glucose in the urine may be present.  Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin which decreases blood sugar levels and a hormone called glucagon which increases the blood glucose level when it becomes to low.  When a person has diabetes, their body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should.  This causes sugar to build up in the blood or spill into the urine.  There are two types of diabetes mellitus, Type I and Type II diabetes.  


  • Type I diabetes occurs abruptly and is characterized by an absolute deficiency of insulin.  It is known as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile onset diabetes, most commonly developing in people younger than 15 though it exists throughout life.  
  • Type II diabetes is more common and is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes and occurs most often in people who are over 40 and overweight.  Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and poor circulation requiring lower-extremity amputations.
Common symptoms may include:


  • elevated blood sugar
  • sugar in the urine
  • increased urine production
  • excessive thirst
  • extreme hunger
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue
  • very dry skin

More common symptoms in women after 30 may include:


  • increased thirst
  • frequent urination
  • frequent itching about the genitals
  • boils
  • loss of weight
  • weakness

When severe diabetes is allowed to progress, symptoms may include:



Treatment may include:


  • Type I - Healthy eating, physical activity, and insulin injections are the basic therapies for Type I diabetes.  The amount of insulin taken must be balanced with food intake and daily activities. Blood and urine glucose levels must be closely monitored through frequent blood and urine testing.

  • Type II - Healthy eating, physical activity, and possibly medication are the basic therapies for Type II diabetes.  Medication may be administered orally or by injection or both to control blood and urine glucose levels.

  • People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day care, and keep blood glucose levels from going too low or too high.

  • People with diabetes should have regularly scheduled appointments with their physician who will monitor and help manage their diabetes. People with diabetes may see cardiologists for heart and circulatory care, endocrinologists, who may specialize in diabetic care; ophthalmologists for eye care; podiatrists for routine foot care; dietitians for dietary guidance and diabetes educators who teach the skills needed for daily diabetes management.
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