Jefferson University Hospitals


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Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a chronic metabolic disease that is characterized by hyperglycemia and can be managed effectively to reduce the risk of complications.

If you or someone you care about is diagnosed with diabetes, seek treatment at Jefferson Health. Rated a Center of Excellence for Diabetes by Philadelphia magazine, our team of experts includes endocrinologists, nephrologists, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, podiatrists, neurologists and obstetrician-gynecologists.

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that usually affects children and young adults. It is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. Type 1 occurs when the body's immune system destroys pancreatic beta cells, which make the hormone insulin that regulates blood glucose. People with Type 1 diabetes typically require insulin to regulate blood glucose levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. It usually begins as insulin resistance, a disorder in which the cells do not use insulin properly, and gradually develops over time. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, a family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. Since 30 to 40 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases go undiagnosed, it is important to speak with a physician if you experience any symptoms.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant.

If you feel you may be at risk of developing diabetes or are experiencing symptoms, check with your healthcare professional immediately. Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss despite good appetite
  • Increased appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Blurred Vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Vaginal infections
  • Slow-healing cuts/bruises

Uncontrolled diabetes can affect many parts of the body and can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Stroke
  • Eye damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot ulcers and infection
  • Leg amputations
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Coma

To diagnose diabetes, a Jefferson Health physician will administer a fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar) test. Normal fasting levels range between 70 and 100 mg/dl. Patients with levels greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl are diagnosed with diabetes.

In order to manage your diabetes, it is important that you understand your condition. At Jefferson Health, you will have access to endocrinologists (physicians who specialize in diabetes and hormone disorders); certified diabetes nurse educators; and registered nutritionists with a special interest in diabetes who can give you instruction in diabetic self-care and diet management, including:

  • Blood glucose fingersticks for at-home use
  • Regular blood tests
  • Foot and eye exams
  • State-of-the-art insulin pumps and continuous glucose sensors