In the United States, an estimated 23.6 million people - or 7.8% of the population - have
show. Of those, 5.7 million are undiagnosed.
Symptoms may seem benign - increased hunger, excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue - but undiagnosed or uncontrolled disease can take a toll on the body's nerves, eventually damaging the eyes, kidneys and lower limbs, and can raise the risk of a
The two main types of diabetes are Type 1, accounting for 5% to 10% of adult cases, and Type 2, accounting for 90% to 95%. An estimated 1% to 5% of additional cases are caused by surgery, medications, infections and disease.
Type 1 can occur at any age, but is usually diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood. In this form of the disease, the body's
attacks beta cells in the
that make the glucose-regulating hormone insulin.
Type 2 occurs as the body loses the ability to use insulin properly and, gradually, the ability to produce it
The disease is insidious and deadly. Though listed as only the seventh-leading cause of death in 2006, it's believed to be dramatically under-reported as a cause - contributing to many more. It's also expensive. Medical costs for people with diabetes are 2.3 times
higher than for those without diabetes, government data show.
For more information, contact the American Diabetes Assn. at
or the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at