|March 27, 2014
What you need to know about diabetes
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesnt make enough insulin or cant use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
What are the types of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for about 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
People develop type 2 diabetes because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly. Eventually, the body also cannot make enough insulin. This leads to high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to serious problems with your eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type in American Indian and Alaska Native people. This type of diabetes can occur at any age, even in children.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes develops in 2- to 10-percent of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over.
Other specific types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses may account for 1- to 5-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for diabetes. One in three American adults have pre-diabetes, and most do not even know they have it. Many people with pre-diabetes who do not lose weight or do moderate physical activity will develop type 2 diabetes within three years.
Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations of the foot, toe or leg. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
People can reduce the risk of getting diabetes and perhaps even return blood sugar levels to normal with a small amount of weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
You are at increased risk for developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes if you:
Are 45 years of age or older.
Have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Are physically active fewer than three times per week.
Ever gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds.
Ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).
What are the signs of type 2 diabetes?
Signs can be severe, very mild or none at all, depending on how high blood sugars have become.
Look for these signs:
Fatigue (feeling very tired most of the time)
Unexplained weight loss
High blood pressure
High triglycerides (bad cholesterol)
A blood test to check your blood sugar will show if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
What Can You Do?
Researchers are making progress in identifying the exact genetics and triggers that predispose some individuals to develop type 1 diabetes, but prevention remains elusive.
A number of studies have shown that regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity.