Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream — causing one’s blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high.

Overview and Symptoms

There are two major types of diabetes. In type 1 (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent) diabetes, the body completely stops producing any insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose found in foods for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. This form of diabetes usually develops in children or young adults, but can occur at any age. Type 2 (formerly called adult-onset or non insulin-dependent) diabetes results when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly. This form of diabetes usually occurs in people who are over 40, overweight, and have a family history of diabetes, although today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents.

The symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision


BIDMC, together with Joslin Diabetes Center, provides patient-centered care to treat and manage diabetes. BIDMC and Joslin collaborate on a number of programs, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, eye care for those with diabetes, kidney and pancreas disease, high-risk pregnancy and obesity. General treatment for diabetes includes proper nutrition, exercise and medications – generally, oral medication for type 2 diabetes and insulin for type 1 diabetes.

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The Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism provides expertise in diagnosing, treating and managing a range of endocrine disorders. 

Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism