Diabetes mellitus is a serious medical problem affecting millions of people in the United States alone. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are two major types of diabetes:
Type 1 — An auto-immune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes.
Type 2 — A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin. It is the most common form of the disease. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95 percent of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is nearing epidemic proportion, due to an increased number of older Americans, and a greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be controlled through lifestyle changes and medication. Regulating blood glucose levels is the key element in managing diabetes, and research has shown that tight control of blood glucose will help prevent or delay the long-term complications of the disease.
For information on Diabetes Support Groups at Sibley Memorial Hospital, click here.