Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition 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. There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Another type is gestational diabetes.

Type 1 is most common in children and young adults and occurs when the pancreas has stopped making insulin. The exact cause has not been determined.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is making less insulin, the insulin being produced is not working as efficiently as it should, or the liver may be releasing stored sugar when the body doesn't need it. Although Type 2 diabetes has traditionally been diagnosed in adults over 30, it also is being diagnosed in children and adolescents. Lifestyle risks include obesity and inactivity.

Gestational Diabetes is abnormal blood sugar that occurs only during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is more likely to occur in women who are over-weight, have a family history of diabetes, have had a baby who weighed more than nine pounds, or who have had gestational diabetes in the past.

The classic symptoms of diabetes include:

  • A general feeling of fatigue or tiredness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Blurriness of vision
  • Slow healing cuts
  • Tingling or numbness of the extremities
  • Sometimes a weight change