When someone has diabetes, what that means is that their blood sugar is too high – that’s what defines diabetes. Really, though, diabetes is a spectrum of disease because there’s a lot of ways to get blood sugar that’s too high. On the one hand, we have classic type 2 diabetes where people are making plenty of insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar) but they don’t respond to it very well. They’re resistant to it, so they have high blood sugar. On the other end of the spectrum, you have type 1 diabetes. In that type of diabetes, people are making no insulin at all. They are very sensitive to it and respond to it but they don’t make it, so they have diabetes. In between these two spectrums, you have a lot of other things that contribute to the development of high blood sugar. You have certain medications that cause diabetes, certain illnesses and other medical problems that can cause it – so there’s a lot of overlap sometimes between the conditions and you can’t always tell if it’s type 1 or type 2.

Doctor Profile

Merri Pendergrass, MD


Board Certified Endocrinologist
Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine
Director of the Adult Diabetes Program

Send this to a friend