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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases, all of which are caused by elevated blood glucose levels. It shows abnormal metabolism (production and maintenance of the body) in carbohydrate, protein and fat, and also causes other complications mainly in the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, blood vessels. Blood test and urine test can detect abnormal amount of glucose in blood and urine.

We often talk about two forms of diabetes - type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is caused by a deficiency of the insulin, which is a hormone produced by pancreas. If your own defensive substances, which are present in blood and lymph, and other body fluids, destroy the pancreatic insulin-producing cells, that will lead to an insulin-deficient diabetes. This autoimmune destruction may be related to environmental, hereditary factors. It accounts for only about five percent of all cases of diabetes and its onset start mostly in childhood or adolescence. Therefore, type 1 diabetes was used to be called juvenile diabetes. In clinical, it has no relationship with obesity, and need a lifelong insulin therapy.

Special types of diabetes

They are often secondary diabetes due to functional genetic defects, pancreatic diseases (e.g. chronic pancreatitis), endocrine disease, drugs or chemicals, infections, diabetes-related hereditary syndrome.

Gestational diabetes mellitus

Gestational diabetes is definitely diagnosed, when impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes is detected in pregnant women. Of them, blood sugar level returns to normal in most women after childbirth. A small number of women have a high risk to get diabetes in the next five to 10 years.

Last update: 2012-02-08