Photo: ©Kerrie Fearby
Diabetes is a life-long disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Major Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Results from the body's failure to produce insulin. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
Some risk factors for diabetes are:
A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
Age greater than 45 years
Some ethnic groups (particularly African-Americans and Hispanic Americans)
Gestational diabetes or delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
High blood pressure
High blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat molecule)
High blood cholesterol level
Diabetes affects more than 18 million Americans – about 6% of the population. Among these 18 million are 5 million (1 in 3) who are not aware they have this disorder, since the simptoms are so subtle that they may be overlooked.
Unusual weight loss
There is no cure for diabetes. The immediate goals are to stabilize your blood sugar and eliminate the symptoms of high blood sugar. The long-term goals of treatment are to prolong life, relieve symptoms, and prevent long-term complications such as heart disease and kidney failure.
Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar just by using a combination of diet and exercise. However, you may be among those who need oral medication(s), insulin injections or a combination of the two — in addition to diet and exercise — to control your blood sugar.
An early diagnosis is very important to prevent complications. If you have any risk factors or are experiencing some of the symtoms mentioned above, you should take glucose tolerance test to measure your blood sugar level.