Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus —often referred to as diabetes—is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to, insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables cells to absorb glucose in order to turn it into energy. This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood, leading to various potential complications.

Many types of diabetes are recognized: The principal three are:

* Type 1: Results from the body's failure to produce insulin. It is estimated that 5–10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Presently most persons with type 1 diabetes take insulin injections.

* Type 2: Results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with absolute insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

* Gestational diabetes: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women. It may precede development of type 2 (or rarely type 1) DM.

Other forms of diabetes mellitus are categorized separately from these. Examples include congenital diabetes due to genetic defects of insulin secretion, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes induced by high doses of glucocorticoids, and several forms of monogenic diabetes.

All forms of diabetes have been treatable since insulin became medically available in 1921, but a cure is difficult. Pancreas transplants have been tried with limited success in type 1 DM; gastric bypass surgery has been successful in many with morbid obesity and type 2 DM; and gestational diabetes usually resolves after delivery. Diabetes without proper treatments can cause many complications. Acute complications include hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or nonketotic hyperosmolar coma. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, retinal damage. Adequate treatment of diabetes is thus important, as well as blood pressure control and lifestyle factors such as smoking cesation and maintaining a healthy body weight.

As of 2000 at least 171 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, or 2.8% of the population.

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