Diabetes is a chronic condition that arises when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, or when the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces (known as insulin resistance).
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body's cells and transforms it into energy needed for daily life.
Failure to produce insulin, or enough insulin, leads to high blood glucose levels. This, in turn, is associated with long-term damage to the body.
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The body can no longer produce the insulin it needs. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, but it usually occurs in children or young adults.
People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. Without this insulin, people with type 1 diabetes will die.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces. This leads to a build-up of glucose in the blood.
It usually occurs in adults, but is increasingly seen in children, adolescents and young adults. Much of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy. It generally develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can lead to serious pregnancy complications for mother and child and a life-time increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
For more information, visit IDF Europe's website at www.idf-europe.org.