When you eat, sugar from your food is dumped into the bloodstream.
Diabetes results when sugar (glucose) gets trapped in the blood, instead of being taken up by cells that need it for energy. People with diabetes often feel tired, thirsty, or need to urinate frequently.
An organ called the pancreas releases insulin.
Having too much sugar in the blood can be toxic to certain organs in the body, causing side effects like kidney failure or blindness. In severe cases, patients may have problems with blood circulation, causing heart disease and stroke or requiring amputation of a limb.
The two major forms of diabetes are referred to as type 1 and type 2. Most diabetics (~90%) have type 2.
Insulin delivers sugar from your bloodstream to your cells where it can be used for energy.
Age of Onset
Under 30 years old
Over 30 years old
The body needs energy to use during daily activities. The body gets that energy when food is converted into glucose
(a form of sugar) that is dumped into the bloodstream.
When a person eats a meal, an organ called the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin. Insulin encourages cells to drink up the new sugar or glucose circulating in the blood and use it for energy.
People with type 1 diabetes don't produce any insulin. People with type 2 diabetes produce some insulin, but cannot use it very effectively. In both cases, the amount of sugar circulating in the blood raises to toxic levels.
Diabetes is influenced by a person's genes, as well as their lifestyle choices. If type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may have inherited factors that make you more susceptible to this disease.
A major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes is overweight and obesity. Obesity causes a person's cells to forget how to use insulin (the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood).
People with type 1 diabetes require shots of insulin to lower their blood sugar.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is to stay active. Physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, and helps your cells use insulin more effectively. Proper nutrition will help you maintain a healthy body weight as well.
People with type 2 diabetes reduce blood sugar levels by modifying their diet and increasing their physical activity. Medication may also be required.
Type 2 diabetes is rising dramatically among teenagers and young adults in the United States due to an increased incidence of obesity.
Supported by the Utah Department of Health Chronic Disease Genomics Program through Cooperative Agreement Number U58/CCU822802 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.