• Loading results...
  • text 1
  • text 2
Please enter a valid search term

Diabetes develops when the body either:

  • Does not make enough insulin or
  • Is unable to use insulin properly (called insulin resistance, generally the result of being overweight, not exercising and eating a poor diet, which can lead to metabolic syndrome) or
  • Both

Insulin is a hormone that is usually made in the pancreas. It helps your body use the sugars that are in the foods we eat. Glucose gives your body energy, and insulin helps carry glucose to your cells.

If the body doesn't make or use insulin well, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by cells in the body. The body's cells are then starved of energy, despite high blood glucose levels.

How Many People Have Diabetes?

Diabetes affects a lot of people. More than 30 million adults in the United States are living with diabetes, yet about 1 in 4 don't know they have it. A recent study estimates nearly half of U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition when blood sugar is elevated but is not yet high enough to be classified as diabetes.

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes, occurs when the body loses the ability to make insulin. Traditionally, this was thought to occur in children, but it can happen throughout life.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes—accounting for up to 95% of all cases. People with type 2 diabetes suffer from insulin resistance, which means their bodies don't respond to insulin properly. But they can make insulin early in the disease. Eventually, patients with type 2 diabetes stop making insulin. It most often occurs in adults, but more children are being diagnosed. This may be because more youth are overweight or less physically active than before.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. After pregnancy, levels of blood sugar improve. But if you had diabetes during pregnancy, you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

There is also growing concern over prediabetes. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and stroke. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or delay the onset of full-blown diabetes.

Some studies find that losing weight—just 5% to 10% of your starting weight—can delay or even reverse prediabetes. For example, if you are 5-foot-11 inches and weigh 200 pounds, try losing 10 pounds as a first step.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that needs to be managed to stay healthy. Over time, too much glucose in the blood can cause serious problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Damage to the blood vessels in your eyes, kidneys and nerves
  • Damage to the arteries of the legs that, in some cases, can lead to loss of a limb
  • Ulcers on the feet or legs that don't heal well
  • Gum disease

  • Last Edited 03/31/2019