An Overview of Diabetes (2022)

Medically Reviewed by Michael Dansinger,MD on February 13, 2021

What is diabetes? What are the types of diabetes?

Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when one of the following occurs:

  • When the pancreas does not produce any insulin
  • When the pancreas produces very little insulin
  • When the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called "insulin resistance"

Diabetes is a lifelong disease. Approximately 18.2 million Americans have the disease and almost one third (or approximately 5.2 million) are unaware that they have it. An additional 41 million people have pre-diabetes. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.

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The Role of Insulin in Diabetes

To understand why insulin is important in diabetes, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy. Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, these cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called "glucose." Then, glucose is transported through the bloodstream to the cells of your body where it can be used to provide some of the energy your body needs for daily activities.

The amount of glucose in your bloodstream is tightly regulated by the hormone insulin. Insulin is always being released in small amounts by the pancreas. When the amount of glucose in your blood rises to a certain level, the pancreas will release more insulin to push more glucose into the cells. This causes the glucose levels in your blood (blood glucose levels) to drop.

To keep your blood glucose levels from getting too low (hypoglycemia or low blood sugar), your body signals you to eat and releases some glucose from storage kept in the liver.

People with diabetes either don't make insulin or their body's cells are resistant to insulin, leading to high levels of sugar circulating in the blood, called simply high blood sugar. By definition, diabetes is having a blood glucose level of 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more after an overnight fast (not eating anything).

Types of Diabetes

Prediabetes

In the U.S., 84.1 million adults have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. This is called prediabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance. People with prediabetes usually have no symptoms, but it’s almost always there before a person develops type 2 diabetes. However, complications normally associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, can begin even when a person has only prediabetes.

(Video) Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2, Animation.

Talk to your doctor to see if you need to be tested for prediabetes. You may be able to prevent type 2 diabetes and lower your risk of complications like heart disease.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (called beta cells) are destroyed by the immune system. People with type 1 diabetes produce no insulin and must use insulin injections to control their blood sugar.

Type 1 diabetes most commonly starts in people under the age of 20, but may occur at any age.

Type 2 diabetes

Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin. However, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is resistant to the insulin. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose can't get into the body's cells.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting almost 18 million Americans. While most of these cases can be prevented, it remains for adults the leading cause of diabetes-related complications such as blindness, non-traumatic amputations, and chronic kidney failure requiring dialysis. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people over age 40 who are overweight, but can occur in people who are not overweight. Sometimes referred to as "adult-onset diabetes," type 2 diabetes has started to appear more often in children because of the rise in obesity in young people.

(Video) Diabetes Overview

Some people can manage their type 2 diabetes by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others may also need to take a pill that helps their body use insulin better, or take insulin injections.

Often, doctors are able to detect the likelihood of type 2 diabetes before the condition actually occurs. Commonly referred to as pre-diabetes, this condition occurs when a person's blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is triggered by pregnancy. Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect insulin's ability to work properly. The condition occurs in up to 9% of all pregnancies.

Pregnant women who have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes are those who are over 25 years old, are above their normal body weight before pregnancy, have a family history of diabetes or are Hispanic, black, Native American, or Asian.

Screening for gestational diabetes is performed during pregnancy. Left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of complications to both the mother and theirunborn child.

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Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal within six weeks of childbirth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes often occur suddenly and can be severe. They include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger (especially after eating)
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
  • Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  • Blurred vision
  • Labored, heavy breathing (Kussmaul respirations)
  • Loss of consciousness (rare)

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes may be the same as those listed above. Most often, there are no symptoms or a very gradual development of the above symptoms. Other symptoms may include:

  • Slow-healing sores or cuts
  • Itching of the skin (usually in the vaginal or groin area)
  • Yeast infections
  • Recent weight gain
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands and feet
  • Impotence or erectile dysfunction

With gestational diabetes, there are often no symptoms. Or you might notice:

  • More thirst
  • More urination
  • More hunger
  • Blurred vision

Pregnancy makes most women have to urinate more often and feel hungrier, so these symptoms don’t always mean you have gestational diabetes. But it is important to get tested, because high blood sugar can cause problems for both you and your baby.

How Is Diabetes Treated?

There's no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to:

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  • Keep your blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
  • Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near their normal ranges as possible by avoiding added sugars and processed starches and by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.
  • Slow or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.

You hold the key to managing your diabetes by:

  • Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking medicine, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it
  • Monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure levels at home
  • Keeping your appointments with your health care providers and having laboratory tests as ordered by your doctor

Remember: What you do at home every day affects your blood sugar more than what your doctor can do every few months during your checkups.

FAQs

What is the overview of diabetes? ›

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.

What is the general overview of type 2 diabetes? ›

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel. This long-term (chronic) condition results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Eventually, high blood sugar levels can lead to disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems.

What is diabetes simple? ›

Diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose level is too high. It can happen when your body doesn't produce enough insulin or the insulin it produces isn't effective. Or, when your body can't produce any insulin at all.

What is the conclusion of diabetes? ›

Diabetes is a slow killer with no known curable treatments. However, its complications can be reduced through proper awareness and timely treatment. Three major complications are related to blindness, kidney damage and heart attack.

How can u prevent diabetes? ›

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  1. Lose extra weight. Losing weight reduces the risk of diabetes. ...
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  3. Eat healthy plant foods. Plants provide vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in your diet. ...
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  5. Skip fad diets and make healthier choices.
25 Jun 2021

Does stress cause diabetes? ›

Stress doesn't cause diabetes but it can affect your blood sugar levels and how you look after your condition. Having diabetes to manage on top of life's normal ups and downs can itself be a cause of stress. It's not always easy to live with and this can also feel harder when many people don't understand it.

What foods can cause diabetes? ›

sugar-sweetened beverages (juice, soda, sweet tea, sports drinks) sweeteners (table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses) processed foods (chips, microwave popcorn, processed meat, convenience meals) trans fats (vegetable shortening, fried foods, dairy-free coffee creamers, partially hydrogenated oil)

What kind of food should diabetics avoid? ›

Worst Choices
  • Fried meats.
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs.
  • Pork bacon.
  • Regular cheeses.
  • Poultry with skin.
  • Deep-fried fish.
  • Deep-fried tofu.
  • Beans prepared with lard.
6 Dec 2020

What are the causes and prevention of diabetes? ›

While the causes of diabetes differ from body to body, some of the most common factors that can lead to diabetes are obesity, unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, and an inactive lifestyle. Age plays a crucial role too, more often than not. Diabetes can also be inherited genetically.

Which type of diabetes is genetic? ›

Type 2 diabetes runs in families. In part, this is due to children learning bad habits—eating a poor diet, not exercising—from their parents.

How many carbs are diabetics allowed per day? ›

Carb intake between 20–90 grams per day has been shown to be effective at improving blood sugar management in people with diabetes.

What sugar level is diabetic? ›

A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.

Is diabetes a disability? ›

Specifically, federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, protect qualified individuals with a disability. Since 2009, amendments and regulations for these laws make clear that diabetes is a disability since it substantially limits the function of the endocrine system.

How do you end a presentation with diabetes? ›

Conclusion. Diabetes is a serious life-threatening disease and must be constantly monitored and effectively subdued with proper medication and by adapting to a healthy lifestyle. By following a healthy lifestyle, regular checkups, and proper medication we can observe a healthy and long life.

Who is affected by diabetes? ›

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

How can I control my diabetes without medication? ›

Manage Diabetes without Medication
  1. Eat a healthy diet. Choose to eat more whole fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and lean proteins. ...
  2. Lose weight. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Make a commitment to exercising regularly by finding a partner. ...
  5. Test your blood sugar. ...
  6. Get enough quality sleep. ...
  7. Getting regular checkups.
22 Nov 2017

Can healthy people get diabetes? ›

Even Really Healthy People Are Prone to Diabetes: Here's What You Should Know. We often assume that just because a person is skinny, they're in perfect health. However, even healthy people can develop insulin resistance, a condition that leads to high blood sugar or diabetes.

Does drinking water prevent diabetes? ›

Drinking water instead of other beverages may help control blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Sticking with water most of the time helps you avoid beverages that are high in sugar, preservatives and other unneeded ingredients.

Does lack of sleep cause diabetes? ›

Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar4 levels. Even partial sleep deprivation over one night increases insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been associated with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder.

Does anger cause diabetes? ›

Results of longitudinal studies suggest that not only depression but also general emotional stress and anxiety, sleeping problems, anger, and hostility are associated with an increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.

Why is my blood sugar so high when I'm not eating any carbs? ›

While protein typically has very little effect on blood glucose, in the absence of carbohydrates (such as a low carb meal) or insulin, it can raise blood glucose. Many individuals with diabetes who eat carb-free meals will take a bit of insulin to cover the difference.

Can diabetics eat pizza? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, people with diabetes can enjoy all types of pizza. However, it's a good idea for all people, not just those with diabetes, to limit their intake of pizza.

Can diabetics eat rice? ›

You can still eat rice if you have diabetes. You should avoid eating it in large portions or too frequently, though. Many types of rice exist, and some types are healthier than others.

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

Strawberries top the list, followed by spinach. (The full 2019 Dirty Dozen list, ranked from most contaminated to least, include strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.)

Are banana OK for diabetics? ›

Bananas are a safe and nutritious fruit for people with diabetes to eat in moderation as part of a balanced, individualized diet plan. A person with diabetes should include fresh, plant food options in the diet, such as fruits and vegetables.

Are potatoes OK for diabetics? ›

Can people with diabetes eat potatoes? Although potatoes are a starchy vegetable, a person with diabetes can still enjoy them as part of a healthful diet. People with diabetes need to be aware of their carbohydrate intake at each meal.

What is the most common complication of diabetes? ›

Nerve damage (neuropathy): One of the most common diabetes complications, nerve damage can cause numbness and pain. Nerve damage most often affects the feet and legs but can also affect your digestion, blood vessels, and heart.

How diabetes is diagnosed? ›

Your doctor can diagnose diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes using blood tests. The blood tests show if your blood glucose level, also called blood sugar, is higher than the range that is healthy for you. Blood tests can also help identify the type of diabetes you have.

What are the 3 main signs of diabetes? ›

The main symptoms of diabetes are described as the three polys - polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia. Individuals with high risk for developing diabetes should be alert to these symptoms and seek medical attention if they notice the above symptoms.

Does diabetes come from mother or father? ›

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher in kids if the mother rather than father has diabetes. If the father has type 2 diabetes, the risk factor is about 30%. If the mother has type 2 diabetes, the risk factor is slightly higher. If both parents have diabetes, the risk factor increases to about 70%.

Are you born with diabetes? ›

To develop type 2 diabetes, you must be born with the genetic traits for diabetes. Because there is a wide range of genetic causes, there is also a wide range in how you will respond to treatment. You may be easily treated with just a change in diet or you may need multiple types of medication.

Which diabetes is reversible? ›

According to recent research, type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but individuals can have glucose levels that return to non-diabetes range, (complete remission) or pre-diabetes glucose level (partial remission) The primary means by which people with type 2 diabetes achieve remission is by losing significant amounts of ...

What is the best carb counter for diabetics? ›

Carb Counting App #1: Calorie King

This app is user-friendly and it's available for both Android and Apple. Calorie King has information on a tremendous database of food, including fast food, chain restaurants, and name-brand foods.

How much protein should a diabetic have a day? ›

Protein Recommendations for Older Adults and Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes. Currently the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein consumption is 0.8 g/kg/day of protein or 10–35% of total energy intake (11, 43, 44).

How much sugar should a diabetic have a day? ›

Limit their intake of free sugarsa to less than 10% of total daily calorie (energy) intake. This is approximately 50 grams (12 teaspoons) of free sugars consumption per day based on a 2000-calorie diet. Limit intake of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) and drink water in their place.

What is the normal blood sugar level for a 70 year old chart? ›

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Agemg/dL
0–5 years100–180
6–9 years80–140
10 years and over70–110
4 Jan 2022

Does metformin cause kidney damage? ›

Metformin doesn't cause kidney damage. The kidneys process and clear the medication out of your system through your urine. If your kidneys don't function properly, there's concern that metformin can build up in your system and cause a condition called lactic acidosis.

How do diabetics feel when their sugar is high? ›

Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) means there is too much sugar in the blood because the body lacks enough insulin. Associated with diabetes, hyperglycemia can cause vomiting, excessive hunger and thirst, rapid heartbeat, vision problems and other symptoms.

What is the main cause of diabetes? ›

The exact cause of most types of diabetes is unknown. In all cases, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. This is because the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be caused by a combination of genetic or environmental factors.

Who is most at risk of diabetes? ›

Your risk increases with age. You're more at risk if you're white and over 40 or over 25 if you're African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian. You're two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes.

How do people treat diabetes? ›

If you have type 1 diabetes, you'll need to use insulin to treat your diabetes. You take the insulin by injection or by using a pump. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may have to use insulin or tablets, though you might initially be able to treat your diabetes by eating well and moving more.

What jobs are diabetics not allowed to do? ›

Notably, there are a couple of jobs that diabetics cannot legally hold due to safety concerns. These include commercial airline pilot and long-distance, commercial truck driver and bus driver positions.

Why do diabetics keep falling asleep? ›

What causes people with diabetes to be tired? Two common reasons for tiredness or lethargy are having too high or too low blood sugar levels. In both cases, the tiredness is the result of having an imbalance between one's level of blood glucose and the amount or effectiveness of circulating insulin.

Can you still drive if you take insulin? ›

If on you're on insulin or other medication that can cause hypoglycemia, it's important that you test blood glucose levels before driving. Do not drive unless your levels are above 5 mmol/l. Also be aware of any active short term insulin that might be in your body still.

What are the 4 types of diabetes? ›

There are four main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and a condition known as prediabetes, in which you have higher-than-normal blood glucose levels but not quite high enough (yet) to qualify as Type 2 diabetes.

What are complications of diabetes? ›

Common diabetes health complications include heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, and other problems with feet, oral health, vision, hearing, and mental health. Learn how to prevent or delay these diabetes complications and how to improve overall health.

How is diabetes diagnosed? ›

Random blood sugar test.

A blood sample will be taken at a random time. No matter when you last ate, a blood sugar level of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — 11.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) — or higher suggests diabetes.

Does stress cause diabetes? ›

Stress doesn't cause diabetes but it can affect your blood sugar levels and how you look after your condition. Having diabetes to manage on top of life's normal ups and downs can itself be a cause of stress. It's not always easy to live with and this can also feel harder when many people don't understand it.

What kind of food should diabetics avoid? ›

Worst Choices
  • Fried meats.
  • Higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs.
  • Pork bacon.
  • Regular cheeses.
  • Poultry with skin.
  • Deep-fried fish.
  • Deep-fried tofu.
  • Beans prepared with lard.
6 Dec 2020

What is the first stage of diabetes? ›

Three of the earliest signs of diabetes you may notice include frequent urination, increased thirst, and unexplained hunger. As your body tries to deal with increasing blood glucose levels, your kidneys need to work harder to filter out the glucose, meaning you will need to pee more often.

Who gets diabetes the most? ›

Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

What are the 3 main signs of diabetes? ›

The main symptoms of diabetes are described as the three polys - polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia. Individuals with high risk for developing diabetes should be alert to these symptoms and seek medical attention if they notice the above symptoms.

Who is most at risk of diabetes? ›

Your risk increases with age. You're more at risk if you're white and over 40 or over 25 if you're African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian. You're two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes.

What causes death from diabetes? ›

The most common causes of death of patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes are cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Risk factors of death in type 1 DM include cardiovascular disease, diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy. Patients die at a younger age due to early onset of the disease.

How do people treat diabetes? ›

If you have type 1 diabetes, you'll need to use insulin to treat your diabetes. You take the insulin by injection or by using a pump. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may have to use insulin or tablets, though you might initially be able to treat your diabetes by eating well and moving more.

What happens if you don't treat diabetes? ›

If type 2 diabetes goes untreated, the high blood sugar can affect various cells and organs in the body. Complications include kidney damage, often leading to dialysis, eye damage, which could result in blindness, or an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.

What is the normal blood sugar level for a 70 year old? ›

Normal ranges of blood sugar levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating meals. The American Diabetes Association recommends seniors have blood glucose levels of less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don't all need the same type of at-home care.

Can diabetes be cured? ›

Even though there's no diabetes cure, diabetes can be treated and controlled, and some people may go into remission. To manage diabetes effectively, you need to do the following: Manage your blood sugar levels.

What levels are diabetes? ›

Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
ResultFasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
Normalless than 100 mg/dl
Prediabetes100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
Diabetes126 mg/dl or higher

Videos

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4. Overview Of Diabetes Webinar - Lisa Sparks
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