Diabetes Home > What Is Diabetes?

What is diabetes? It is a condition characterized by the body's inability to properly convert food into energy. In people who have this condition, the body does not make enough insulin or it does not respond to insulin properly. Some of the symptoms include blurred vision, fatigue, and excessive thirst. Treatment options typically start with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet and more physical activity. In some cases, medication may be necessary.

What Is Diabetes? -- An Introduction

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body cannot properly convert food into energy. Most food that a person eats is eventually broken down into blood glucose (also called blood sugar), which cells need for energy and growth. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter cells. In people who are diabetic, the body does not make enough insulin, or it does not respond to insulin properly. This causes glucose to build up in the blood instead of moving into the cells.
 

Types of Diabetes

The most common form of this condition is type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin-dependent diabetes). People can develop type 2 at any age, even in childhood. Other types include:
 

 

(Click Diabetes Types for more information.)

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of diabetes include:
 
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • A need to urinate frequently
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Sores that do not heal.
     
However, some people do not experience any symptoms.
 
(Click Diabetes Symptoms for more information.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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