Diabetes develops when the body either:
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.
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:
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:
Managing diabetes is a team effort.
If you also have cardiovascular disease or a high risk of developing heart disease, you will likely be seen by several health professionals including your primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, nurse, dietitian or certified diabetes educator, dentist, eye doctor, foot doctor, pharmacist, and cardiologist.
Make sure to write down questions before each appointment. For example, you might want to ask: