A 2018 study suggested that three types should be abandoned as too simplistic.[57] It classified diabetes into five subgroups, with what is typically described as type 1 and autoimmune late-onset diabetes categorized as one group, whereas type 2 encompasses four categories. This is hoped to improve diabetes treatment by tailoring it more specifically to the subgroups.[58]

The most common complication of treating high blood glucose levels is low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia). The risk is greatest for older people who are frail, who are sick enough to require frequent hospital admissions, or who are taking several drugs. Of all available drugs to treat diabetes, long-acting sulfonylurea drugs are most likely to cause low blood glucose levels in older people. When they take these drugs, they are also more likely to have serious symptoms, such as fainting and falling, and to have difficulty thinking or using parts of the body due to low blood glucose levels.


Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness and visual disability. Diabetes mellitus is associated with damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, resulting in loss of vision. Findings, consistent from study to study, make it possible to suggest that, after 15 years of diabetes, approximately 2% of people become blind, while about 10% develop severe visual handicap. Loss of vision due to certain types of glaucoma and cataract may also be more common in people with diabetes than in those without the disease.

It is recommended that all people with type 2 diabetes get regular eye examination.[13] There is weak evidence suggesting that treating gum disease by scaling and root planing may result in a small short-term improvement in blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.[79] There is no evidence to suggest that this improvement in blood sugar levels is maintained longer than 4 months.[79] There is also not enough evidence to determine if medications to treat gum disease are effective at lowering blood sugar levels.[79]
Most people with diabetes should keep a record of their blood glucose levels and report them to their doctor or nurse for advice in adjusting the dose of insulin or the oral antihyperglycemic drug. Many people can learn to adjust the insulin dose on their own as necessary. Some people who have mild or early type 2 diabetes that is well-controlled with one or two drugs may be able to monitor their fingerstick glucose levels relatively infrequently.
In the sunshine, molecules in the skin are converted to vitamin D. But people stay indoors more these days, which could lead to vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that if mice are deprived of vitamin D, they are more likely to become diabetic. In people, observational studies have also found a correlation between D deficiency and type 1. "If you don't have enough D, then [your immune system] doesn't function like it should," says Chantal Mathieu, MD, PhD, a professor of experimental medicine and endocrinology at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. "Vitamin D is not the cause of type 1 diabetes. [But] if you already have a risk, you don't want to have vitamin D deficiency on board because that's going to be one of the little pushes that pushes you in the wrong direction."
A 2018 study suggested that three types should be abandoned as too simplistic.[57] It classified diabetes into five subgroups, with what is typically described as type 1 and autoimmune late-onset diabetes categorized as one group, whereas type 2 encompasses four categories. This is hoped to improve diabetes treatment by tailoring it more specifically to the subgroups.[58]
Get to Know Your Medications: If you have diabetes, it is important to know and understand what your medications do. This can help to keep blood sugars controlled and prevent low and high blood sugars. Certain medicines need to be taken with food, or they will cause your blood sugar will drop. There are so many diabetes medications out there. Being your own advocate can help you. Make sure to tell your doctor if your medications are too expensive or if they are causing any side effects. If your medication regimen is not working for you, odds are your doctor can find a new medicine that might work better.
Hyperglycemia (ie, random blood glucose concentration of more than 200 mg/dL or 11 mmol/L) results when insulin deficiency leads to uninhibited gluconeogenesis and prevents the use and storage of circulating glucose. The kidneys cannot reabsorb the excess glucose load, causing glycosuria, osmotic diuresis, thirst, and dehydration. Increased fat and protein breakdown leads to ketone production and weight loss. Without insulin, a child with type 1 diabetes mellitus wastes away and eventually dies due to DKA. The effects of insulin deficiency are shown in the image below.
“I don’t think that anybody has put their finger on what the true cause of diabetes is, or that we’re going to find a single cause,” Grieger says. So if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes or have other risk factors for the disease, avoiding any one food group entirely — even sugar — won’t completely offset your risk. Rather, it’s important to prioritize proper nutrition, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight — all steps the American Diabetes Association recommends for preventing type 2 diabetes.
People with glucose levels between normal and diabetic have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or insulin resistance. People with impaired glucose tolerance do not have diabetes, but are at high risk for progressing to diabetes. Each year, 1% to 5% of people whose test results show impaired glucose tolerance actually eventually develop diabetes. Weight loss and exercise may help people with impaired glucose tolerance return their glucose levels to normal. In addition, some physicians advocate the use of medications, such as metformin (Glucophage), to help prevent/delay the onset of overt diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is typically a chronic disease associated with a ten-year-shorter life expectancy.[10] This is partly due to a number of complications with which it is associated, including: two to four times the risk of cardiovascular disease, including ischemic heart disease and stroke; a 20-fold increase in lower limb amputations, and increased rates of hospitalizations.[10] In the developed world, and increasingly elsewhere, type 2 diabetes is the largest cause of nontraumatic blindness and kidney failure.[24] It has also been associated with an increased risk of cognitive dysfunction and dementia through disease processes such as Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.[25] Other complications include acanthosis nigricans, sexual dysfunction, and frequent infections.[23]
Acute Coronary Syndrome Moderate Risk Acute Coronary Syndrome Management Low Risk Acute Coronary Syndrome Management Myocardial Infarction Stabilization Post Myocardial Infarction Medications Cardiac Rehabilitation Angina Pectoris Heart Failure Causes NYHA Heart Failure Classification Diastolic Heart Failure Systolic Dysfunction Atrial Fibrillation Acute Management Atrial Fibrillation Anticoagulation Coronary Artery Disease Prevention in Diabetes Hypertension in Diabetes Mellitus CHAD Score Hypertension in the Elderly Isolated Systolic Hypertension Hypertension Criteria Hypertension Evaluation History Hypertension Management Hypertension Risk Stratification Resistant Hypertension Hypertension Management for Specific Comorbid Diseases Hypertension Management for Specific Emergencies Bacterial Endocarditis HDL Cholesterol LDL Cholesterol Triglyceride VLDL Cholesterol Hypercholesterolemia Hypertriglyceridemia AntiHyperlipidemic Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Preeclampsia Prevention Congenital Heart Disease Hypertension in Children Medication Causes of Hypertension ACE Inhibitor Angiotensin 2 Receptor Blocking Agent Dihydropyridine Calcium Channel Blocker Nifedipine Selective Aldosterone Receptor Antagonist Niacin HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitor Cardiac Risk Cardiac Risk Management Exercise Stress Test Stress Myocardial Perfusion Imaging Preoperative Cardiovascular Evaluation Eagle's Cardiac Risk Assessment Revised Cardiac Risk Index ACC-AHA Preoperative Cardiac Risk Assessment ACP Preoperative Cardiac Risk Assessment Syncope Subclavian Steal Syndrome Periodontitis Oral Health Cellulitis Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection Group A Streptococcal Cellulitis Vibrio Cellulitis Gram-Negative Toe Web Infection Impetigo Skin Infections in Diabetes Mellitus Erythralgia Blister Skin Ulcer Cutaneous Candidiasis Onychomycosis Alopecia Areata Skin Abscess Skin Infection Intertrigo Nail Discoloration Terry's Nail Ingrown Toenail Hyperpigmentation Carotenemia Incision and Drainage Cryotherapy Skin Conditions in Diabetes Mellitus Acanthosis Nigricans Diabetic Dermopathy Granuloma Annulare Necrobiosis Lipoidica Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Metabolic Syndrome Diabetes Mellitus Complications Diabetic Ketoacidosis Diabetic Ketoacidosis Management in Adults Diabetic Ketoacidosis Management in Children Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State Diabetic Education Diabetes Mellitus Glucose Management Diabetes Mellitus Control in Hospital Diabetes Resources Diabetic Retinopathy Unintentional Weight Loss Unintentional Weight Loss Causes Hypoglycemia Serum Glucose Glucose Challenge Test Glucose Tolerance Test 2 hour Hemoglobin A1C Sex Hormone Binding Globulin Endocrinology Links Diabetic Neuropathy Neonatal Hypoglycemia Obesity Risk Gestational Diabetes Gestational Diabetes Management Gestational Diabetes Perinatal Mortality Diabetes Mellitus Preconception Counseling Obesity in Children Systemic Corticosteroid Medication Causes of Hyperglycemia GlucoWatch Biographer Symlin Inhaled Insulin Somogyi Phenomena Glucophage Human Growth Hormone Orlistat Diabetic Foot Care Nutrition in Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Diabetic Nephropathy Klinefelter Syndrome Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism Pubertal Delay Exercise in Diabetes Mellitus Perioperative Diabetes Management Obesity Surgery Night Sweats Acute Otitis Externa Bacterial Otitis Externa Necrotizing Otitis Externa Hearing Loss Sensorineural Hearing Loss Vocal Cord Paralysis Thrush Manual Cerumen Removal Sinus XRay Acute Suppurative Sialoadenitis Rhinosinusitis Tinnitus Burning Mouth Syndrome Taste Dysfunction Loss of Smell Dry Mouth Salivary Gland Enlargement Tongue Pain Dysequilibrium Atrophic Glossitis Animal Bite Infected Animal Bite Human Bite Heat Illness Risk Factors Burn Management Trauma in Pregnancy Bacterial Conjunctivitis Central Retinal Artery Occlusion Open Angle Glaucoma Cataract Ischemic Optic Neuritis Vitreous Hemorrhage Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis Floaters Light Flashes Acute Vision Loss Health Concerns in the Elderly Infections in Older Adults Medication Use in the Elderly Failure to Thrive in the Elderly Fall Prevention in the Elderly Irritable Bowel Syndrome Constipation Causes Chronic Diarrhea Traveler's Diarrhea Esophageal Dysmotility Gastroesophageal Reflux Hemochromatosis Pancreatic Cancer Hepatitis C Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Serum Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Liver Function Test Abnormality Lactase Deficiency Acute Pancreatitis Chronic Pancreatitis Osmotic Laxative Hepatotoxic Medication Traveler's Diarrhea Prophylaxis Pruritus Ani Perirectal Abscess Gastroparesis Whipple Procedure Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding Dyspepsia Causes Nausea Causes Contraception HAIR-AN Syndrome Polycystic Ovary Disease Menopause Endometrial Cancer Risk Factor Candida Vulvovaginitis Anovulatory Bleeding Oral Contraceptive Female Sexual Dysfunction Cancer Survivor Care Serum Protein Electrophoresis Perioperative Anticoagulation Cardiovascular Manifestations of HIV HIV Presentation Hepatitis in HIV HIV Related Neuropathy Stavudine Emerging Infection Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Fever of Unknown Origin Candidiasis Neutropenic Fever Hepatitis B Vaccine Influenza Vaccine Postherpetic Neuralgia Fluoroquinolone Third Generation Fluoroquinolone Sulfonamide Travel Preparation Travel Immunization Influenza Dengue Legionella Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Bronchitis Pneumonia in the Elderly Pneumonia Churg-Strauss Syndrome Tuberculin Skin Test Cystic Fibrosis Isoniazid Lung Transplantation in Cystic Fibrosis Active Tuberculosis Treatment Medical Literature Autonomic Dysfunction Bell's Palsy Facial Nerve Paralysis Causes Dementia Agitation in Dementia Ischemic Stroke Stroke Pathophysiology CVA Management Multiple Sclerosis Down Syndrome Cranial Nerve 3 Coma Exam Hemiplegia Giant Cell Arteritis Spinal Headache CSF Protein Altered Level of Consciousness Causes Guillain Barre Syndrome Restless Leg Syndrome Triptan Prevention of Ischemic Stroke Nerve Conduction Velocity Paresthesia Causes Peripheral Neuropathy Asymmetric Peripheral Neuropathy Peripheral Neuropathy Tremor Neonatal Distress Causes Newborn History Newborn Exam Neonatal Jaundice Causes Respiratory Distress Syndrome in the Newborn Late Pregnancy Loss Preterm Labor First Trimester Bleeding Fetal Macrosomia Hyperemesis Gravidarum Medications in Pregnancy Ritodrine Terbutaline Pregnancy Risk Assessment Probe-to-Bone Test Shoulder History Dupuytren's Disease Septic Bursitis Spinal Infection Osteomyelitis Causes Vertebral Osteomyelitis Patellar Tendinopathy Meralgia Paresthetica Frozen Shoulder Exertional Compartment Syndrome Hip Pain Low Back Pain Red Flag Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Adolescent Health Bullying Ephedrine Ginseng Myoinositol Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Lab Markers of Malnutrition Nutrition Guidelines Glycemic Index Non-nutritive Sweetener Conenzyme Q10 Mortality Statistics Adult Health Maintenance Screening DOT Examination Family History Refugee Health Exam Automobile Safety Substance Abuse Evaluation Alcohol Detoxification in Ambulatory Setting Major Depression Major Depression Differential Diagnosis Anorexia Nervosa Antabuse Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Antipsychotic Medication Clozapine Olanzapine Psychosis Insomnia Causes Renal Artery Stenosis Idiopathic Cyclic Edema Acute Kidney Injury Risk Chronic Renal Failure Acute Glomerulonephritis Nephrotic Syndrome Serum Osmolality Hypomagnesemia Drug Dosing in Chronic Kidney Disease Hyperkalemia due to Medications Hyperkalemia Causes Prevention of Kidney Disease Progression Intravenous Contrast Related Acute Renal Failure Osteoporosis Evaluation Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Polymyositis Differential Diagnosis Septic Joint Gouty Arthritis Fibromyalgia Charcot's Joint Charcot Foot Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Osteoarthritis Methotrexate Joint Injection Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue Causes Impairment Evaluation Pre-participation History Exercise Exercise in the Elderly Walking Program Scuba Diving Procedural Sedation and Analgesia Peripheral Arterial Occlusive Disease Peripheral Vascular Disease Management Venous Insufficiency Wound Decubitus Ulcer Foot Wound Leg Ulcer Causes Wound Repair Fishhook Removal Ankle-Brachial Index Preoperative Examination Gallstone Acalculous Cholecystitis Cholecystectomy Small Bowel Obstruction Bowel Pseudoobstruction Abdominal Muscle Wall Pain Abdominal Wall Pain Causes Hydrocolloid Dressing Suture Material Surgical Antibiotic Prophylaxis Male Infertility Testicular Failure Bladder Cancer Urinary Tract Infection Recurrent Cystitis Acute Bacterial Prostatitis Acute Pyelonephritis Erectile Dysfunction Erectile Dysfunction Causes Erectile Dysfunction Management Urinary Incontinence Overflow Incontinence Urine pH Urine Specific Gravity Enuresis Proteinuria in Children Balanitis Peyronie's Disease Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Vasectomy Counseling Proteinuria Causes Targeted Cancer Therapy Acute Paronychia Chronic Paronychia Urinary Retention Decreased Visual Acuity Gastrointestinal Manifestations of Diabetes Mellitus Shoulder Osteoarthritis Vitiligo Cardiomyopathy Heart Transplant Contraceptive Selection in Diabetes Mellitus Periodontal Bleeding Perioperative Antiplatelet Therapy Charlson Comorbidity Index Constipation Causes in the Elderly Chronic Osteomyelitis Abnormal Gait and Balance Causes in the Elderly Calcium Channel Blocker Overdose Diverticular Bleeding Framingham Cardiac Risk Scale Cardiac Risk in Diabetes Score Outpatient Bleeding Risk Index Four Year Prognostic Index Diabetes Screening ABCD2 Score Urine Microalbumin Hearing Loss in Older Adults Preoperative Guidelines for Medications Prior to Surgery Contrast-Induced Nephropathy Risk Score Hyperlipidemia in Diabetes Mellitus Diamond and Forrester Chest Pain Prediction Rule Coronary Risk Stratification of Chest Pain Diabetes Sick Day Management Urinary Tract Infection in Geriatric Patients Insulinlike Growth Factor 1 Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head Family Practice Notebook Updates 2014 Emergency Care in ESRD Medication Compliance Slit Lamp Sulfonamide Allergy Health Care of the Homeless CHADS2-VASc Score Tuberculosis Risk Factors for progression from Latent to Active Disease Family Practice Notebook Updates 2015 Wound Infection Asymptomatic Bacteriuria Toxic Shock Syndrome Tetanus ASA Physical Status Classification System Family Practice Notebook Updates 2016 Solid Organ Transplant Calcineurin Inhibitor Cardiac Pacemaker Infection DAPT Score Acute Maculopathy Medication Causes of Delirium in the Elderly Family Practice Notebook Updates 2017 Major Bleeding Risk With Anticoagulants Severe Asymptomatic Hypertension Chronic Wound Family Practice Notebook Updates Stable Coronary Artery Disease Nocturia Polyuria Hyperhidrosis Causes Pneumaturia Anemia in Older Adults Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Children

Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are too high to be considered normal but not high enough to be labeled diabetes. People have prediabetes if their fasting blood glucose level is between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL or if their blood glucose level 2 hours after a glucose tolerance test is between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL. Prediabetes carries a higher risk of future diabetes as well as heart disease. Decreasing body weight by 5 to 10% through diet and exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing future diabetes.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), is common in people with type 1 and type 2 DM. Most cases are mild and are not considered medical emergencies. Effects can range from feelings of unease, sweating, trembling, and increased appetite in mild cases to more serious effects such as confusion, changes in behavior such as aggressiveness, seizures, unconsciousness, and (rarely) permanent brain damage or death in severe cases.[24][25] Moderately low blood sugar may easily be mistaken for drunkenness;[26] rapid breathing and sweating, cold, pale skin are characteristic of low blood sugar but not definitive.[27] Mild to moderate cases are self-treated by eating or drinking something high in sugar. Severe cases can lead to unconsciousness and must be treated with intravenous glucose or injections with glucagon.[28]
Home blood glucose monitoring kits are available so patients with diabetes can monitor their own levels. A small needle or lancet is used to prick the finger and a drop of blood is collected and analyzed by a monitoring device. Some patients may test their blood glucose levels several times during a day and use this information to adjust their doses of insulin.
Jump up ^ Kyu, Hmwe H.; Bachman, Victoria F.; Alexander, Lily T.; Mumford, John Everett; Afshin, Ashkan; Estep, Kara; Veerman, J. Lennert; Delwiche, Kristen; Iannarone, Marissa L.; Moyer, Madeline L.; Cercy, Kelly; Vos, Theo; Murray, Christopher J.L.; Forouzanfar, Mohammad H. (9 August 2016). "Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013". The BMJ. 354: i3857. doi:10.1136/bmj.i3857. PMC 4979358. PMID 27510511.
To understand why insulin is important, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy. Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, these cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of the food is broken down into a simple sugar called "glucose." Then, glucose is transported through the bloodstream to these cells where it can be used to provide the energy the body needs for daily activities.

The pain of diabetic nerve damage may respond to traditional treatments with certain medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin), phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol) that are traditionally used in the treatment of seizure disorders. Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep) and desipramine (Norpraminine) are medications that are traditionally used for depression. While many of these medications are not indicated specifically for the treatment of diabetes related nerve pain, they are used by physicians commonly.


Insulin is released into the blood by beta cells (β-cells), found in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, in response to rising levels of blood glucose, typically after eating. Insulin is used by about two-thirds of the body's cells to absorb glucose from the blood for use as fuel, for conversion to other needed molecules, or for storage. Lower glucose levels result in decreased insulin release from the beta cells and in the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. This process is mainly controlled by the hormone glucagon, which acts in the opposite manner to insulin.[61]
There is evidence that certain emotions can promote type 2 diabetes. A recent study found that depression seems to predispose people to diabetes. Other research has tied emotional stress to diabetes, though the link hasn't been proved. Researchers speculate that the emotional connection may have to do with the hormone cortisol, which floods the body during periods of stress. Cortisol sends glucose to the blood, where it can fuel a fight-or-flight response, but overuse of this system may lead to dysfunction.
Family or personal history. Your risk increases if you have prediabetes — a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes. You're also at greater risk if you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, if you delivered a very large baby or if you had an unexplained stillbirth.
×