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Diabetes mellitus or "sugar" is a condition with no known cure and with potential complications. People with diabetes have a problem processing food into energy for their bodies.

During digestion many foods are broken down to glucose, a simple sugar that is the body's main source of energy. Glucose passes through the wall of the intestine and enters the blood stream. It then circulates to all the cells in the body to give them energy. Glucose cannot enter a cell on its own. Your body produces insulin to help glucose enter the cells.

When you have diabetes, either your body is not able to produce enough insulin, or the available insulin is somehow prevented from doing what it should. Without enough insulin, glucose in the blood rises above normal levels because it cannot enter the cells. As the glucose level rises, some glucose "spills" over into the urine. The level at which this occurs is not the same for everyone. Too much glucose in the blood and urine are signs that your diabetes is "out of control."

Two Major Types of Diabetes

  1. Insulin-Dependent Diabetes - occurs because the body produces little or no insulin. Therefore, daily insulin injections are needed, as well as proper diet and exercise.
  2. Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes - occurs when the body can produce some insulin, but it is not doing the job it was intended to do. With non-insulin dependent diabetes, injections are not always necessary. Oral medication in pill form is often used. As with insulin-dependent diabetes, diet control and exercise is very important.

Adapted from "Understanding Diabetes," Eli Lilly and Company