Diabetes is the most common disorder of the body’s endocrine system, and is characterized by consistently high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. The disease affects about 387 million people worldwide, including people who are undiagnosed/unaware that they have diabetes.
The body of a person with diabetes cannot properly process food for use as energy. When we eat, most of the food is broken down into glucose, which the body uses for growth and energy. A hormone called insulin moves glucose from the bloodstream into individual cells, giving each cell the energy it needs to function.
In people with diabetes, one of two problems can occur:
- The pancreas produces too little insulin, or no insulin.
- The cells of the body do not respond appropriately to the insulin in the bloodstream.
The end result is too much glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream.
Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health problems, including blindness, kidney failure and nerve pain.
There are four main types of diabetes.