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Diabetes is a disease that prevents your body from converting sugar, starches and other foods you eat into energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, produces a hormone called insulin which affects the metabolism. Insulin allows the body to absorb sugar and starches in the form of glucose to create energy for the body.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or is unable to use insulin due to factors such as obesity, leading to insulin resistance. When glucose cannot be absorbed by the body it builds up in the blood stream resulting in a high blood glucose level, and your body becomes starved for energy.

Long-term complications from high blood glucose levels may cause damage to your nerves, kidneys, eyes, feet, skin, and gums around your teeth. Other long-term complications include osteoporosis, and an increased risk for heart and vascular disease, and stroke.


Major Types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – occurs when little or no insulin is produced in the pancreas, resulting in a high blood glucose level. It can occur at any age, but is most common in people under 20 years of age.
  • Type 2 diabetes – occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or cells ignore the insulin (insulin resistant), resulting in a high blood glucose level. It is most common in people over the age of 40 and who are overweight.
  • Gestational diabetes – Hormone changes during pregnancy can also affect how the pancreas produces insulin, resulting in a high blood glucose level.


Diabetes symptoms may include:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Irritability.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Slow-to-heal cuts and sores.
  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) - a darkening of the skin around the neck or under the arms.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.

Risk Factors & Prevention

You are at a greater risk for diabetes if you:

  • Have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
  • Are over the age of 45 years.
  • Are overweight.
  • Are inactive.
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure levels.
  • Have had diabetes during a pregnancy or delivered a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth.

People at risk for Type 2 diabetes can often prevent or delay the onset of disease. Steps to prevent Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating low-fat, nutrient-rich foods — like whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and lean proteins — can help prevent excessive weight gain.
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages. Consuming lots of sugar-filled foods and beverages — like sodas, juices, and iced teas — also can lead to excessive weight gain.
  • Make physical activity a daily part of life. An hour or so of lively physical activity every day is a good goal.
  • Reduce screen time. The risk of obesity increases when you watch more than two hours of TV per day.

Follow Up Care

Our medical centers offer programs, clinics and screenings for those who have pre-diabetes, have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and for those living with diabetes.