What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it as it should. Insulin is a hormone that helps balance the amount of glucose in your blood.
Normally, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose. Glucose is then carried to the body’s cells with the help of insulin. If your body does not make enough insulin, or the insulin does not work as it should, the glucose cannot enter the body’s cells. Instead, it stays in the blood. This makes your blood glucose level too high.
What are the types of diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. A person with type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin to survive because the body makes little or no insulin on its own. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin is produced, but it does not work as it should. The body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin and produces more insulin to keep glucose levels normal. Over time, the body cannot maintain high enough levels to keep the glucose levels normal, and diabetes occurs. Type 2 diabetes also may occur as a result of other diseases or as a side effect of certain medications.
People with type 2 diabetes may not need to take insulin. They may be able to control their glucose levels with proper diet, medication, or both.
What are risk factors for diabetes?
Diabetes may run in families or be linked to certain lifestyle factors. You should be tested if you have any of these risk factors:
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What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are listed as follows:
What tests are available to detect diabetes?
There are three types of tests used to diagnose diabetes:
If diabetes is not controlled, what problems can it lead to?
If diabetes is not controlled, long-term, severe health problems may occur:
How can women with diabetes prepare for pregnancy?
If you have diabetes, preparing for pregnancy can improve your health and that of your future child (see “A Healthy Pregnancy for Women With Diabetes“). Plan to see your health care provider before you get pregnant to discuss your care. You should try to have good control over your glucose level a number of weeks before you become pregnant. Your health care provider may suggest changes in your care that will help lower your glucose to a normal range.
Can diabetes be prevented?
To help prevent diabetes, follow a healthy diet and get regular exercise (see “Weight Control: Eating Right and Keeping Fit“). This also can help keep your weight down—a key part of preventing diabetes. The following steps can help prevent the disease:
Cardiovascular Disease: Disease of the heart and blood vessels.
Glucose: A sugar that is present in the blood and is the body’s main source of fuel.
Hormone: Substance produced by the body to control the functions of various organs.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A condition in which increased androgen occurs and eggs are not released from the ovaries.