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 doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
People who think they might have diabetes must visit a physician for diagnosis. They may have some of the following symptoms:
- Very dry skin
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Sudden vision changes
- Unexplained weight loss
- More infections than usual
- Sores that are slow to heal
- Feeling very tired much of the time
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Risk factors are less well defined for type 1 diabetes than for type 2 diabetes, but autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors are involved in developing this type of diabetes. Healthy eating, physical activity, and insulin injections are the basic therapies for type 1 diabetes. The amount of insulin taken must be balanced with food intake and daily activities. Blood glucose levels must be closely monitored through frequent blood glucose testing.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. Healthy eating, physical activity, and blood glucose testing are the basic therapies for type 2 diabetes. Many people with type 2 diabetes require oral medication, insulin or both to control their blood glucose levels.
Are you concerned you or a loved one may be at risk for diabetes? Get your free subscription to Care Support Network today and take our free Diabetes Risk Assessment.