diabetes mellitus An illness caused by decreased production of insulin or by decreased responsiveness of tissues to it. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, lowers blood glucose levels, and diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels. Type I diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes, affects younger people who need insulin injections to control it. Type II diabetes, also called noninsulin-dependent diabetes or maturity-onset diabetes, usually affects middle-aged, overweight people and can often be controlled by a special diet and tablets to lower the blood sugar. Well-known complications of diabetes include blindness caused by damage to blood vessels of the retina, kidney failure caused by damage to the glomeruli that filter urine, and an increased chance of developing infections. Diabetes is also associated with less well-known complications that can affect muscles, joints, and soft tissues.
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