Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by increased levels of sugar in the blood. It is caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin, which is responsible for maintaining normal levels of sugar in the blood, or the insensitivity of the body to the amount of insulin produced. There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes: The pancreas produces little or no insulin, and diabetes develops when the body's immune system destroys the pancreas cells. It is also called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes as it is commonly seen in children.
- Type 2 diabetes: The pancreas usually produces normal levels of insulin, but the body becomes resistant to the hormone. It is associated with inactivity, obesity and genetic factors. Also called adult-onset diabetes, it occurs mainly in adults, but is becoming more common in children because of the increase of childhood obesity.
The common symptoms of diabetes mellitus are increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision and frequent infections. When your child is suspected of having diabetes, your doctor confirms the diagnosis through blood tests.