Overview of Diabetes

It is a chronic disease associated with abnormally high levels of the sugar glucose in the blood. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

  • In type I diabetes mellitus, the pancreas does not produce insulin, which is necessary for the body to be able to transport glucose across cell membranes to use as fuel.
  • In type II diabetes mellitus, the body can produce insulin but in inadequate amounts for the body’s metabolic needs. In type II diabetes, there is tissue resistance to insulin despite overproduction of it and its utilization is impaired.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms Present
with Type I
with Type II
Frequent urination & thirst occasionally present sometimes present
Weakness or fatigue occasionally present sometimes present
Extreme hunger/eating with weight loss occasionally present not present
Recurrent blurred vision sometimes present occasionally present
Vulva/vaginal area irritation or itching sometimes present occasionally present
Tingling or numbness in hands/feet sometimes present occasionally present
Night bed wetting occasionally present not present
Asymptomatic not present occasionally present


Diagnosis is based on the plasma fasting glucose and 2 hour postprandial blood glucoses. Your doctor will look at these to determine whether or not it is normal, there is impaired glucose tolerance, or diabetes mellitus.

Predisposing Factors

  • Overweight with Body Mass Index (BMI) >25
  • First degree relative with diabetes mellitus
  • Members of a high risk ethnic population (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
  • Have delivered a baby weighing >9 lbs. or had gestational diabetes
  • Have HDL cholesterol < 35ml/dl or triglyceride > 250 mg/dl
  • Have hypertension
  • Have had previous test of impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose


In type II diabetes, exercise and weight control can help prevent or delay onset. In type I diabetes, there is no specific known prevention.


Treatment depends on the type of diabetes mellitus but the goal is to restore normal blood glucose with either pills or combination of pills and insulin in type II diabetes or with insulin in type I diabetes. Insulin is a protein and as a result can’t be ingested as it would be broken down by the stomach’s digestive enzymes. Pills in type II diabetes help the type II diabetic’s body to produce more insulin and/or use the insulin it is producing better or to make counterregulatory hormones for glucose control.

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.

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