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What is diabetes? Learn about this serious disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30.3 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. This chronic disease is caused by the body's inability to move sugar from the blood into muscle and fat cells or when the liver makes too much sugar and releases it into the blood.

Blood glucose, also known as sugar, is a main source of energy that comes from the food you eat. Insulin is a hormone whose job is to guide glucose into your cells to be used for energy. When the body does not make enough insulin, the glucose doesn't make it to the cells and stays in the blood. The major types of diabetes are:

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long disease

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body makes little or no insulin. There is no cure for this type, but it can be controlled with insulin, changes in diet, and exercise. This type is often diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body does not make or use insulin well. There is no cure for this type, but it can be reversed with weight loss and exercise. This type occurs more often in adults, but high obesity rates can cause children and teens to develop the disease.

Diabetes can lead to serious health issues, but getting better control over blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure helps reduce the risk of kidney disease, eye disease, nervous system disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Additional health and wellness information

If you're a Highmark member, you have access to a secure, members-only website. Here you will find more information about diabetes. To access the website, select the service region noted on your member ID card. After logging in, select the "Wellness" tab. Type "diabetes" in the search field. For more information on your members-only website, visit the Highmark Blog.