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Diabetes Definitions, Signs & Symptoms

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not make enough insulin or the body cells cannot use insulin properly.  Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy.  Without insulin, glucose (the body's main energy source) builds up in the blood, resulting in high blood sugar.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is the second most common chronic disease among children.  Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes among children and occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin. The next most common form of diabetes among children, type 2 diabetes, occurs when the body still makes insulin but it doesn't work very well.  The incidence of type 2 diabetes among young people is on the rise.  Families and children need to understand as much as possible about diabetes in order to manage it with confidence, rather than letting diabetes control them.

Diabetes Can Cause:

  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Retinopathy: Nearly 39,000 Americans lose their sight to diabetes each year.
  • Nephropathy: One out of three people with insulin-dependent diabetes develops kidney failure and need kidney transplants.
  • Arteriosclerosis: Diabetes can cause arteriosclerosis, which leads to heart disease, gangrene and loss of extremities (often toes, feet or legs). People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than the general population.
  • Neuropathy: Diabetic neuropathy leads to severe pain and loss of sensation in extremities. Intestinal problems may also occur. Over 54,000 lower extremity amputations are performed each year on people with diabetes.

What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes?

Type 1 (onset is usually sudden):

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive irritability
  • Extreme hunger accompanied by loss of weight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue

Type 2 (may develop gradually):

  • Any of the above symptoms, though not necessarily weight loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Recurring or hard-to-heal skin, gum or bladder infections
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision