The main fact about diabetes is that it is a disease in which the body stops producing insulin or cannot use the insulin it produces properly, according to MedicineNet. As of 2014, 29.1 million people in the United States had diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes, says the Centers for Disease Control.
There are two main types of diabetes, according to MedicineNet. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This is when the patient's own immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. These cells produce insulin, a hormone that converts glucose into energy for the body to use. Some experts believe that type 1 diabetes is inherited. Sometimes, it develops because of exposure to toxins or viruses, which can cause the body to make antibodies that attack the structures and mechanisms in the pancreas that help the body use glucose.
Type 2 diabetes is the type in which the body does produce insulin, but doesn't use it, says MedicineNet. It usually affects adults, but doctors are seeing more and more adolescents with the disorder. This is due to obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet.
In 2010, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. Complications of diabetes include blindness, kidney disease and amputations.