Diabetes | Endocrinology and Diabetes

Endocrinology and Diabetes

Diabetes and Related Disorders

We offer support, education and specialized expertise to help you manage diabetes and related health conditions.

Medically reviewed by Gabrielle Burt, RN on Dec. 18, 2023.

Male health care provider talking to patient in a clinic

Nationally Ranked for Diabetes Care

About 37 million adults in the U.S. (more than 11%) have diabetes. At UC Davis Health, we’re recognized regionally and nationally for our expertise with this disease and all forms of metabolic and endocrine disorders.

U.S. News & World Report ranks us among the top 50 hospitals in the nation for both adult and pediatric diabetes and endocrinology. We’re also a high performing hospital for diabetes, with outcomes and patient care exceeding national averages.


What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) refers to a common group of conditions that occur when your blood sugar (glucose) is too high. It is a metabolic disorder, which means your body can't properly make energy from the food you eat.

When you have diabetes, your body has problems making or using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to use the glucose in your blood.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious health complications. Some types of diabetes are reversible, while others are long-term (chronic) and require lifelong care.

The main types of diabetes include:


Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal. It indicates that you’re at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. About 80% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have the condition because it rarely causes symptoms.

Learn more about prediabetes
Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease typically diagnosed during childhood. Your immune system attacks cells in your pancreas, which keep it from making enough insulin. This form of diabetes tends to run in families (inherited) and is not related to lifestyle factors.

Learn more about type 1 diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, affecting between 90% and 95% of people with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes develops when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin well. It’s often related to obesity and lifestyle factors.

Learn more about type 2 diabetes
Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes can develop when your body doesn’t make enough insulin during pregnancy. It affects between 2% and 10% of pregnancies each year. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born but increases the mother's risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Learn more about gestational diabetes

Diabetes Symptoms

Prediabetes doesn’t usually cause symptoms, so many people don’t realize they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes until problems develop. Visit your health care provider if you notice any of the following common symptoms.

Common Diabetes Symptoms

  • Extreme thirst or hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Skin problems, such as sores that don’t heal
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vision problems

Diabetic Emergency Signs

Seek medical care immediately or call 911 if you experience symptoms of dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemic emergency).

  • Drowsiness or feeling faint
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme thirst
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Seizure
  • Sweet-smelling breath

Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors

Your pancreas plays an important role in digestion and metabolism. It produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin carries sugar from your bloodstream to your muscle and fat cells, which store or convert the sugar to energy. This helps regulate blood glucose levels because it moves sugar out of your bloodstream.

When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make or use insulin as it should. Your pancreas might not make enough insulin, which occurs with type 1 diabetes. Or your cells might develop insulin resistance, which means they don’t accept insulin or the sugar it carries.

Risk factors increase your chances of developing a condition. Obesity and physical inactivity are the two biggest risk factors for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.


Diagnosing Diabetes

Fasting blood glucose test: This blood test measures the amount of sugar in your blood after you’ve been fasting (not eating or drinking anything except water) for about eight hours. A blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher means you have diabetes.

A1C Test

An A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over two to three months. An A1C of 6.5% or higher means you have diabetes.

Oral Blood Glucose Test

This test measures the amount of glucose in your blood before and for several hours after you consume a sugary drink. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher after two hours means you have diabetes.


Diabetes Complications

Unmanaged diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar and serious health complications. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, blindness and lower limb amputations.

Here’s how diabetes can affect your body:

Foot Problems

Nerve damage and reduced circulation due to diabetes can lead to slow- or non-healing foot sores prone to infection.

Gum Disease

High blood sugar increases the risk of problems in your mouth, such as cavities, bleeding gums and tooth decay.

Hearing Loss

Diabetes can damage nerves and blood vessels in your ears. People with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as people without diabetes.

Heart Disease

Diabetes, which is often accompanied by high cholesterol and high blood pressure, damages blood vessels and can lead to coronary artery disease.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic (long-term) high blood glucose damages blood vessels and nerves in your kidneys so they don’t work as well as they should. Diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease.

Nerve Damage

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage due to diabetes. It can lead to tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms, legs, hands and feet.

Vision Loss

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of damage to the blood vessels in your retina. Poor blood flow in your retina can lead to blurred vision or blindness.

Managing Diabetes

At UC Davis Health, we help you manage diabetes for life. A multispecialty team of endocrinologists, internal medicine physicians, registered dietitians, certified diabetes education nurses and other experts oversees your care. We also have the specialists you need for diabetes complicated by heart disease, kidney disease and related conditions.

We offer diabetes health education classes, diabetes testing and convenient diabetes clinics throughout Sacramento. You receive the individualized guidance and support you need to live a longer, healthier life.

Blood Glucose Monitoring

Daily blood glucose checks are an important part of diabetes management. You may use a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor. Your provider can help you decide which method is right for you.


Some people with diabetes take insulin to control their blood sugar levels. You can take insulin using a needle, pen, pump or inhaler. We may recommend other medicines to help your body make more insulin or process sugar more efficiently.

Lifestyle Changes

A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you regulate your blood sugar, lose weight and keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. A registered dietitian can help you select food that fits your medical and nutritional needs.


Preventing Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable, but you can lower your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising for 30 minutes each day
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Keeping other health conditions under control
  • Losing weight
  • Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Managing stress
  • Not smoking

"Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html

"What is Diabetes?" CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html

"Gestational Diabetes," CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html

"Diabetes Complications," Endocrine Society, https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/diabetes-complications 

"Diabetes and Hearing Loss," CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-hearing-loss.html

Diabetes in the U.S.

37MPeople have diabetes

Diabetes is the

8thLeading cause of death in the U.S.


1 in 5People don’t know they have diabetes

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Diabetes Fast Facts

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Diabetes Clinic Locations

We offer diabetes diagnosis and treatment at four of our clinics throughout the Sacramento region.

Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 13th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization.

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