Diabetes is too much sugar in the blood.
People who do not have diabetes will usually have a fasting (where they haven't eaten for 8 hours) blood sugar of 70-95mg/dl or less than 130mgdl two hours after a meal or sweet drink.
In order to understand diabetes it is important to understand how the body works. We need food for energy and to help us repair ourselves. Food needs to get inside our muscle and fat cells where it can be used for energy or stored for later use. In order to get the food into these cells you need insulin. Insulin is one of the many hormones the body makes and insulin is in fact made by the pancreas, an organ that sits behind the stomach. So when you eat food it is first digested by the stomach. This digested food then enters the small intestine where it is absorbed into the blood stream. The food we eat provides our bodies with glucose, which is used by the cells as a source of energy. If insulin isn't available or doesn't work correctly to move glucose from the blood into cells, glucose will stay in the blood. Insulin acts like a key. High blood glucose levels are toxic, and cells that don't get glucose are lacking the fuel they need. These two problems cause the symptoms of diabetes.
The medical name of this condition is diabetes mellitus. It is sometimes referred to as "sugar diabetes."
There are two main kinds of diabetes mellitus: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. More than 90% of all people with diabetes have type 2. Overall, about 30 million people in North America have diabetes. Only about two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes are aware of it and are receiving treatment because, for many people, its early symptoms are not noticeable.
Type 1 diabetes used to be called "juvenile" diabetes, since it usually occurs in people under the age of 30. Everyone with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin on a daily basis. Many people think that the pancreases of people with type 1 diabetes are not working anymore. In fact the pancreas is still working because the pancreas does more than make insulin; it makes digestive juices as well as other hormones. The problem in type 1 diabetes is that the cells that make insulin have stopped working. We still don't know why it has happened. There is a lot of research going on around the world to find the answer. We do know that type 1 diabetes is a very old disease and has been around for thousands of years. Until 1921, when insulin was discovered, people with type 1 diabetes died. Without insulin you can't use the food you eat so in fact starve to death. The scientists who discovered insulin won the Nobel Peace Prize. Type 1 diabetes is still not that common. There are 22 children in Bermuda under the age of 21 who have type 1 diabetes.
Read the Ninjabetic blog
Read about diabetes from a parent's perspective in the UK Guardian.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called "adult-onset" diabetes, because it used to occur in people over 40. People with type 2 diabetes usually have a family history of this condition and most are overweight. People with type 2 diabetes are still making insulin but perhaps not enough insulin or the insulin can't work properly because of the excess weight that they have gained. Before the Second World War type 2 diabetes was still uncommon. It was almost unheard of in children. Today many more children have type 2 diabetes than type 1. For the most part type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. People have stopped exercising and are eating too many fast fat foods and drinking an excess of sugary drinks. People with type 2 diabetes are treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Some may eventually need insulin. Certain ethnic groups are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This includes but is not limited to Native American, Hispanic/Latino, South Asian, East Asian, Pacific Island, or those of African descent.
Another less common form is gestational diabetes, a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. The problem usually clears up after the baby is born, but women who have had gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
A table that describes the basic differences between type 1, type 2 and Gesttational.
This calculator is NOT to be used for people under 18 years of age