Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (sugar) for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into our body cells. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin very well. This problem causes glucose to build up in your blood.
Diabetes means that a person’s blood sugar is too high. Your blood always has some sugar in it because the body needs sugar for energy to keep you going. But too much sugar in the blood can cause serious damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
You may recall having some of these signs before you found out you had diabetes:
- Being very thirsty.
- Urinating a lot—often at night.
- Having blurry vision from time to time.
- Feeling very tired much of the time.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Having very dry skin.
- Having sores that are slow to heal.
- Getting more infections than usual.
- Losing feeling or getting a tingling feeling in the feet.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1.
- Type 2.
Another type of diabetes appears during pregnancy in some women. It’s called gestational diabetes. See page 75 to learn more about this type of diabetes.
One out of 10 people with diabetes has type 1 diabetes. These people usually find out they have diabetes when they are children or young adults. People with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin every day to live. The pancreas of a person with type 1 makes little or no insulin. Scientists are learning more about what causes the body to attack its own beta cells of the pancreas (an autoimmune process) and stop making insulin in people with certain sets of genes.
Certain risk factors make people more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Some of these are:
- A family history of diabetes.
- Lack of exercise.
- Weighing too much.
- Being of African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, or Asian/Pacific Islander heritage.
- Gestational diabetes history.
You can help manage your diabetes by controlling your weight, making healthy food choices, and getting regular physical activity. Ask for help from your health care team. Some people with type 2 diabetes may also need to take diabetes pills or insulin shots to help control their diabetes. Some people with diabetes are concerned about their family members getting diabetes. A national study show’s that people may be able to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
(Source: Take care of your diabetes)