Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Diabetes can be caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.
There are three major types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood. Many patients are diagnosed when they are older than age 20. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause is unknown. Genetics, viruses, and autoimmune problems may play a role.
- Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1. It makes up most of diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adulthood, but young people are increasingly being diagnosed with this disease. The pancreas does not make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal, often because the body does not respond well to insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it, although it is a serious condition. Type 2 diabetes is becoming more common due to increasing obesity and failure to exercise.
- Gestational diabetes is high blood glucose that develops at any time during pregnancy in a woman who does not have diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
However, because type 2 diabetes develops slowly, some people with high blood sugar experience no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes: Fatigue, Increased thirst, increased urination, Nausea, Vomiting, Weight loss in spite of increased appetite
Patients with type 1 diabetes usually develop symptoms over a short period of time. The condition is often diagnosed in an emergency setting.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes: Blurred vision, Fatigue, Increased appetite, increased thirst, and increased urination.
WHAT TO EAT: You should work closely with your health care provider to learn how much fat, protein, and carbohydrates you need in your diet. A registered dietician can help you plan your dietary needs. People with type 1 diabetes should eat at about the same times each day and try to be consistent with the types of food they choose. This helps to prevent blood sugar from becoming extremely high or low. People with type 2 diabetes should follow a well-balanced and low-fat diet.
EXERCISE: Regular exercise is especially important for people with diabetes. It helps with blood sugar control, weight loss, and high blood pressure. People with diabetes who exercise are less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke than those who do not exercise regularly. You may need to change your diet or medication dose if you change your exercise intensity or duration to keep blood sugar levels from going too high or low.
FOOT CARE: People with diabetes are more likely to have foot problems. Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves and decrease the body’s ability to fight infection. You may not notice a foot injury until an infection develops. Death of skin and other tissue can occur. If left untreated, the affected foot may need to be amputated. Diabetes is the most common condition leading to amputations. To prevent injury to the feet, check and care for your feet every day.
Maintaining an ideal body weight and an active lifestyle may prevent type 2 diabetes.
Currently there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
There is no effective screening test for type 1 diabetes in people who don’t have symptoms.
Screening for type 2 diabetes in people with no symptoms is recommended for:
- Overweight children who have other risk factors for diabetes starting at age 10 and repeating every 2 years
- Overweight adults (BMI greater than 25) who have other risk factors
- Adults over 45, repeated every 3 years