Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. When you eat, your body breaks food down into glucose and sends it into the blood. Insulin then helps move the glucose from the blood into your cells. When glucose enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin. But, not everyone with diabetes has the same problem.
There are different types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and a condition called gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use insulin it does make well, or both.
Diabetes may be treated with insulin, oral medications, exercise, and meal planning. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to several complications, such as nerve damage, kidney or eye problems, heart disease, and stroke. But, if managed well, you can live a long, healthy life with diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin-
resistance. At first, the beta-cells make extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time your pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage their diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. However, your doctor may need to also prescribe oral medications (pills) and/or insulin to help you meet your target blood glucose levels. Diabetes is a progressive disease – even if you don’t need to treat your diabetes with medications at first, you may need to over time.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
• Urinating often
• Feeling thirsty
• Feeling hungry, even though you are eating
• Extreme fatigue
• Blurry vision
• Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
• Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition that comes before diabetes. It means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but aren’t high enough to be called diabetes. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes. You can have it and not know it.
If I Have Prediabetes, What Does It Mean?
It means you might get type 2 diabetes soon or down the road. You are also more likely to get heart disease or have a stroke. The good news is that you can take steps to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes with physical activity, weight loss, or taking medication, if your doctor prescribes it.
Delaying or Preventing Diabetes
Being active is one of the best ways to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. It can also lower your weight and blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Ask your health care team about safe ways of being active for you. One way to be more active is to try to walk for half an hour, five days a week. If you don’t have 30 minutes all at once, take shorter walks during the day.
Weight loss can delay or prevent diabetes. If you’re overweight, any weight loss, even 7% of your weight (for example, losing about 15 pounds if you weigh 200) may prevent or delay your risk for diabetes.
• Almost 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes
• 86 million Americans–37% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older—have prediabetes
• 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year, 3,835/day, one every 23 seconds