What is diabetes?

Chances are, you've heard the word "diabetes." Maybe a friend or family member has the disease. Or maybe the first time you heard the word was at a recent doctor's visit. Whatever the case, let's start with the basics. What exactly is diabetes? And what causes it?

Diabetes is a disease. People develop diabetes because the pancreas does not make enough insulin (a hormone that helps your cells use glucose/sugar) or because the cells in the muscles, liver and fat do not use insulin properly, or both. As a result, the amount of sugar in your blood increases.Over the years, high blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, damages nerves and blood vessels. This can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections and amputation.

There are three types of diabetes - Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.