From the Office of Research on Women’s Health
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy. Too much glucose, however, is not good for your health.
Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps the glucose from food get into your cells. If your body does not make enough insulin, or if the insulin does not work the way it should, glucose cannot get into your cells for energy. It stays in your blood instead. Your blood glucose levels then get too high, causing diabetes.
With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed diabetes in the United States. Children and young adults most often develop type 1 diabetes, but it can appear at any age.
With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. People with type 2 diabetes often need to take pills or insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can occur at any age, even childhood.
Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes, or being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Pregnant women can also develop diabetes, called gestational diabetes (see Week 18 for more information). Gestational diabetes often goes away after the baby is born. But having gestational diabetes can place you and your child at increased risk for developing diabetes later in life.
Symptoms of diabetes may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and frequent urination. With type 2 diabetes, some people have no symptoms at all. A blood test can show if you have diabetes.
Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, heart, gums, teeth, and nerves. It can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and the loss of a foot or a leg. The most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease. If you have diabetes you are more than twice as likely as people without diabetes to have a heart attack or a stroke.
The good news is that if you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage the disease. Learn how to manage the ABCs of diabetes. A is for the HbA1C test, which shows you what your blood glucose has been over the past 3 months. B is for blood pressure and C is for cholesterol.
You can lower your chances of developing serious health problems by keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels in the target range your health care provider gives you. You can manage your diabetes by being active every day and keeping your weight in a healthy range. Follow your meal plan, take your medications, and check your blood glucose as directed by your health care provider.
For more information: www.yourdiabetesinfo.org