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People with diabetes have difficulty processing glucose, a sugar the body uses for energy. As a result the blood levels of glucose rise and eventually spill out into the urine. At the same time, however, the cells of the body are starved for glucose. The characteristic symptoms of diabetes are polydipsia, polyphagia and polyuria - excessive thirst, excessive eating, and excessive urination.

There are two basic types of diabetes.


Type I diabetes is called childhood-onset, or insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The pancreas is unable to make insulin, which functions to move the insulin into cells. Several causes have been proposed, including: Autoimmune (antibodies to pancreatic cells are present in 75% of diabetics); Pancreatic beta cell injury (nitrites cause beta cell damage); and Viral infections (such as mumps and coxsackie virus). Type I diabetes is also ssociated with childhood exposure to cowÕs milk.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is called adult-onset or non-insulin-dependant diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). In this form the body doesnÕt respond properly to insulin. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 80% of diabetic cases. The cause of type 2 diabetes is often unknown (idiopathic). Other causes include: pancreatic destruction from surgery, hemachromatosis, or cancer; Hypophosphatemia (low phosphate); Glycogen synthetase deficiency; Glucokinase deficiency associated with a genetic defect on chromosome 20.

Genetic factors and obesity are important causes.

Risk factors include family history and gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).




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