If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas isn’t making insulin or is making very little. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well.
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much glucose stays in your blood. Over time, high blood glucose can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth.
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin shots (or wear an insulin pump) every day to manage your blood sugar levels and get the energy your body needs.You’ll also need to check your blood sugar regularly.
You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications.
- Having prediabetes, which means you have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes
- Being overweight or having obesity
- Being age 45 or older
- A family history of diabetes
- Being African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
- Having high blood pressure
- Having a low level of HDL (good) cholesterol or a high level of triglycerides
- A history of diabetes in pregnancy
- Having given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
- An inactive lifestyle
- A history of heart disease or stroke
- Having depression
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Having acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition in which your skin becomes dark and thick, especially around your neck or armpits
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Known risk factors include:
- Family history: Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes.
- Age: You can get type 1 diabetes at any age, but it’s more likely to develop when you’re a child, teen, or young adult.
In the United States, whites are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans.
- Losing weight and keeping it off. Weight control is an important part of diabetes prevention. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose between 10 to 20 pounds. And once you lose the weight, it is important that you don’t gain it back.
- Following a healthy eating plan. It is important to reduce the amount of calories you eat and drink each day, so you can lose weight and keep it off. To do that, your diet should include smaller portions and less fat and sugar. You should also eat a variety of foods from each food group, including plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also a good idea to limit red meat, and avoid processed meats.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise has many health benefits, including helping you to lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels. These both lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional to figure out which types of exercise are best for you. You can start slowly and work up to your goal.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you already smoke, try to quit.
- Talk to your health care provider to see whether there is anything else you can do to delay or to prevent type 2 diabetes. If you are at high risk, your provider may suggest that you take one of a few types of diabetes medicines.
Diabetes mellitus, more commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disorder that results in increased blood sugar.
Type 1: When the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin.
Type 2: When the body fails to respond to insulin due to an increased resistance. This is usually caused by obesity and lack of exercise.
Gestational: certain pregnant women can develop diabetes during the course of their pregnancy.
Links to authorities:
Influenza (yearly), Pneumococcal, and Hepatitis B
- Pre-Diabetes Risk Assessment Test
- BMI Calculator
- Food Shopping Guide
- Foot Care
- Diabetes Heart Initiative Newsletter
- Mindful Eating
Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/.
How to Prevent Diabetes. (2019, September 16). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventdiabetes.html.
Who’s at Risk? (2019, August 28). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html.