Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a condition where the body cannot maintain normal blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are controlled in the body by a hormone called insulin. Insulin is responsible for moving blood sugar into the cells. When the body does not produce enough insulin or the body does not respond normally to insulin, the blood sugar cannot move into the cells. This causes the blood sugar level in the blood to rise. There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 : This often develops in young people and is caused by the failure of the pancreas to make insulin.
  • Type 2: This often develops in older people, but can develop at any age. It is often due to the body not responding normally to insulin.
  • Gestational: This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and can cause significant problems for both mother and baby.

Symptoms

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling of the feet
  • Frequent infections
  • Vaginal discharge or itching in young girls

Diabetes can also occur without symptoms. Therefore, it is important for all individuals to be tested for diabetes. Diabetes can be diagnosed with a simple blood test that measures the blood sugar level. Diabetes is present when the fasting blood sugar is greater than 125 mg/dL. Pre-diabetes is present when the blood sugar is between 100-125 mg/dL. Persons with pre-diabetes are at high risk for developing diabetes in the future.

Risk factors

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Prior history of gestational diabetes
  • Ethnicity: African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk

Risk factors for gestational diabetes Include:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Ethnicity: African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and Native Americans are at higher risk

Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Complications

Treatments

  • A healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Medications if lifestyle changes are not enough to lower the blood sugar

Related Resources

Do You Have Diabetes?: People of all backgrounds can get diabetes. See if you have any of the classic symptoms. 
Facts About Diabetes: Get the answers to all of your questions about diabetes and prediabetes.