What is Diabetes ?

Diabetes is a very big topic! To make the diagnosis, complications and treatment of diabetes more understandable, we have broken it into several dozen diabetes topic pages which go into more and more detail. Our diabetes search engine will help you find specific diabetes information, or you can come back to this introduction page to see each of the diabetes topic pages listed.

Diabetes is a disorder characterized by hyperglycemia or elevated blood glucose (blood sugar). Our bodies function best at a certain level of sugar in the bloodstream. If the amount of sugar in our blood runs too high or too low, then we typically feel bad. Diabetes is the name of the condition where the blood sugar level consistently runs too high.

Diabetes is the most common endocrine disorder. Sixteen million Americans have diabetes, yet many are not aware of it. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have a higher rate of developing diabetes during their lifetime. Diabetes has potential long term complications that can affect the kidneys, eyes, heart, blood vessels and nerves. A number of pages on this web site are devoted to the prevention and treatment of the complications of diabetes.

Types of Diabetes
Although doctors and patients alike tend to group all patients with diabetes together, the truth is that there are two different types of diabetes which are similar in their elevated blood sugar, but different in many other ways. Throughout the remainder of these web pages we will be referring to the different types of diabetes when appropriate, but when the topic pertains to both types of diabetes we will use the general term “diabetes”.Diabetes is correctly divided into two major subgroups:

Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. This division is based upon whether the blood sugar problem is caused by insulin deficiency (Type 1) or insulin resistance (Type 2). Insulin deficiency means there is not enough insulin being made by the pancreas due to a malfunction of their insulin producing cells. Insulin resistance occurs when there is plenty of insulin made by the pancreas (it is functioning normally and making plenty of insulin) but the cells of the body are resistant to it’s action which results in the blood sugar being too high.