Diabetes is a chronic disease, where the body is unable to use blood glucose for energy. As a result, hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) and hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar levels) occur. Hyper and hypoglycemia are conditions that lead to serious long-term complications, such as:
Cardiovascular disease and blood vessel damage
* Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States; however, it can be reduced by proper diagnosis, ongoing treatment and follow-ups.
Major types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes: the pancreas no longer makes insulin, and as a result, blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert carbohydrates (sugar) into usable energy for the brain and muscles.
Type 2 Diabetes: either the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body cannot use insulin correctly.
Gestational Diabetes: a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and characterized by high blood glucose levels. It is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes development later on. Prediabetes: The earlier form of Type 2 Diabetes, whereby blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet those of type 2 diabetes.
Who gets Diabetes?
Diabetes can affect any individual at any age.
Type 1 Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents.
Type 2 Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed in older, overweight and sedentary individuals, and certain ethnicities, such as African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander American, and Latino American. People with a family history of diabetes are also at a greater risk.
Gestational Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed during pregnancy around 28 weeks or later.
Prediabetes is most commonly diagnosed in people who:
Are overweight or obese.
Have a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes.
Had diabetes during pregnancy (called gestational diabetes) or had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth.
Belong to any of the following ethnic groups: African American, Native American, Latin American or Asian/Pacific Islander.
Have high blood pressure (above 140/90 mm Hg).
Have high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (“good” cholesterol) is less than 40 mg per dL (for men) or less than 50 mg per dl (for women), or your triglyceride level is higher than 250 mg per dL.
Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). For more details about this condition, the ADA has provided lots of information and resources here.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Many people go on for years undiagnosed until experiencing the severe complications listed above. According to the ADA, here are the symptoms to look for in the short-term:
Type 1 Diabetes
Unusual weight loss
Extreme fatigue and Irritability
Type 2 Diabetes
Any of the type 1 symptoms
Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms and are diagnosed via blood testing
If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your doctor right away. You can also take ADA's Online Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you are at risk for diabetes.
Can I Prevent Diabetes?
YES - there is a way to delay and even present type 2 diabetes’ onset through lifestyle changes. By having a healthier diet, increasing exercise levels and maintaining a healthy weight, you can markedly reduce your risk. For more information on preventative measures, see the ADA's guidelines.
What are normal blood glucose levels?
These numbers are based on the clinical practice recommendations of the American Diabetes Association (ADA).