Introduction to Diabetes



People without diabetes have normal blood glucose levels

If you don’t have diabetes, your food is digested in your stomach and changed into glucose (a kind of sugar). The glucose travels in your bloodstream to your body cells. Insulin produced by your pancreas allows the glucose to enter your body cells and gives them energy.

People with diabetes have blood glucose levels that are too high

Your pancreas is not making enough insulin, or the insulin it makes does not work well. Either way, without insulin your cells can’t get the glucose they need. Instead, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream, so the cells 'starve' while the glucose level in the blood rises.

When your blood glucose level gets very high, your body gets rid of the glucose and calories through your urine. As a result, you may have one or more of the following signs:

  • Thirst

  • Urinating more than usual

  • Feeling very hungry

  • Losing weight without trying

  • Feeling more tired than usual

  • Sores that heal slowly

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Losing feeling in your feet, tingling in hands and feet

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Blurry eyesight

Diabetes is a chronic disease

Diabetes is a chronic disease. It does not go away, even with treatment. It is also progressive, meaning that if left untreated, it can lead to difficult complications. The good news is that diabetes can be controlled. However, it must be carefully monitored to keep it in control.

A treatment plan that works at first may need to be adjusted as time passes to keep your blood glucose in its “target range”, where it should be most of the time. Your health care team will work with you to decide the blood glucose target ranges that are right for you.

Learn more about the different types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
Gestational diabetes
Other types of diabetes 


The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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