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Diabetes can strike anyone, from any walk of life. And it does – in numbers that are dramatically increasing. Today, more than 30 million children and adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes. Worldwide, more than 422 million people have diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious condition that causes higher than normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes occurs when your body cannot make or effectively use its own insulin, a hormone made by special cells in the pancreas called islets (eye-lets). Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy.

Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar builds up in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. And, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart. Very high blood sugar levels can also lead to coma and death.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms. 

What is Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes

A chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose).

Gestational diabetes

A form of high blood sugar affecting pregnant women.

Type 1 diabetes

A chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.


A condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes.