Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone your body produces to help sugars move through the bloodstream and into the body's cells. If untreated, the sugar that builds up in your bloodstream can eventually damage your heart, eyes, kidneys and blood vessels.

What are the types of Diabetes?

Pre-Diabetes: The body is starting to have trouble producing enough insulin all the time.

Type 1: The body does not produce any insulin because the beta cells of the pancreas have been destroyed. This can be diagnosed at any age. About 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1.

Type 2: The body does not produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that it does produce, resulting in too much blood sugar. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2.

Gestational: The body is not able to make enough insulin to cover the increased needs required during pregnancy. About 17% of pregnancies result in gestational diabetes which usually disappears after delivery.

What are the symptoms of Diabetes?

  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Excessive thirst
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections

What factors increase the risks for Diabetes?

  • Having a family history of Diabetes
  • Of African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native American descent
  • Being Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Not getting physical activity on a regular basis
  • Delivering a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth

THERE IS HOPE!! Taking control of Diabetes has many benefits. Keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels in the normal range can make a big difference now and in the future.

In the SHORT RUN, you will:

  • Feel better
  • Stay healthy
  • Have more energy
  • Prevent the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar

In the LONG RUN you will:

  • Lower your chances of having complications such as: heart disease or stroke, eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage
  • Enjoy a better life

What do you need to do?

  • Test your Blood Sugar. Monitoring your blood sugar regularly (as directed by your doctor or educator) can help you determine if your current treatments are working properly, learn what affects your blood sugar most, and help you prevent any severe high or low blood sugars.
  • Take Medication. You may need pills or injections or both to keep your blood sugars under control. Make sure you are careful to take them consistently as directed.
  • Eat Smart. Eating a balanced diet is healthy for anyone, but especially important for those with diabetes. Controlling your portions will also help keep blood sugars in target ranges.
  • Exercise Regularly. Activity can help keep blood sugars down, help lose or maintain weight, and can boost your health in other ways.
  • Keep your Appointments. Your doctor will want you to visit every 3-6 months to make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding complications. Scheduling visits with a diabetes educator can give you more detailed, valuable education and ideas. You may also wish to see an Endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) for more specialized treatment.

*Information adapted from American Diabetes Association website www.diabetes.org and “Living Well with Diabetes” booklet by Abbott.