What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of conditions where the body cannot produce enough or any insulin, cannot properly use the insulin that is produced, or cannot do a combination of either.

When any of these things happen, the body is unable to get sugar from the blood into your cells. This can lead to high blood sugar levels.

Glucose, the form of sugar found in your blood, is one of your main energy sources. A lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin causes sugar to build up in your blood. This can lead to health problems.

The three main types of diabetes are:

What causes diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune condition. This means your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. The damage is permanent.

What prompts the attacks is not clear. There may be both genetic and environmental reasons. Lifestyle factors are not believed to play a role.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes starts out as insulin resistance. This means your body cannot use insulin efficiently, which causes your pancreas to produce more insulin until it cannot keep up with demand. Insulin production then decreases, which causes high blood sugar.

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. Contributing factors may include:

  • genetics
  • a more sedentary lifestyle
  • higher weight or obesity

There may also be other health factors and environmental reasons.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is caused by insulin-blocking hormones that are produced during pregnancy.

This type of diabetes only happens during pregnancy. It is often seen in people with preexisting prediabetes and a family history of diabetes.

About 50 percentTrusted Source of people diagnosed with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

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