Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. 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 doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. This is why many people refer to diabetes as “sugar.”
The information in this guide is not a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you think you have diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a number of severe health problems including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults. It’s always treated with insulin. A healthy diet that controls starches and sugars (carbohydrates) is important. Regular exercise can reduce risk for heart disease and other complications. Symptoms include sudden weight loss, excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, nausea, vomiting, poor growth, and lack of energy. If type 1 diabetes is not treated, a condition called ketosis occurs. Ketosis can cause coma and even death.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in older adults. However, it is now becoming more common in children and teens. Those with type 2 diabetes are often overweight and unfit. They cannot make enough insulin to keep their blood sugar in control. A meal plan for weight control and regular exercise is often the first treatment tried. If diet and exercise are not enough, medicine may be required. Various diabetes pills can be used. If diabetes pills don’t work, insulin shots may be needed. The doctor decides what medicine works best. Symptoms for type 2 diabetes usually are not obvious. In fact, people vary from merely feeling tired to having symptoms similar to type 1 diabetes. If you have diabetes in the family, have your blood sugar checked yearly by the doctor. Finding diabetes early is the best way to prevent serious problems later. Various diabetes pills can be used. If diabetes pills don’t work, insulin shots may be needed. The doctor decides what medicine works best. Symptoms for type 2 diabetes usually are not obvious. In fact, people vary from merely feeling tired to having symptoms similar to type 1 diabetes. If you have diabetes in the family, have your blood sugar checked yearly by the doctor. Finding diabetes early is the best way to prevent serious problems later
Gestational diabetes only occurs with pregnancy. It is usually controlled with a special meal plan and exercise. If medicine is needed, only insulin can be used. Diabetes pills are not safe for the baby. Screening will be done around the 26th week of the pregnancy, or earlier if the woman is at high risk. Women at high risk include those with a history of large babies, a previous history of gestational diabetes, or a history of stillbirths or miscarriages and those who are overweight or who have a history of diabetes in the family. As a woman gets older, she is more likely to get gestational diabetes. After delivery, the woman will be tested again for diabetes. Most women do not have diabetes then. However, having gestational diabetes greatly increases a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who are overweight and inactive are most at risk.
The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.
Common symptoms of diabetes:
Although there are many similarities between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the cause of each is very different. And the treatment is usually quite different, too. Some people, especially adults who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, may have symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes and this overlap between types can be confusing.