Understanding Diabetes

When you eat, your body turns food into sugar. The sugar is what gives you energy, like fuel. Your body uses insulin to get the sugar from your blood into the cells of your body. When you have diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or does not use it properly. As a result, the sugar in your blood builds up too much.

There are two types of diabetes — type 1 and type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes: Your body makes little or no insulin on its own. Only about 1 in 10 people with diabetes have type 1. They usually develop it as children, teens or young adults. People with this type of the disease must take insulin.
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  • Type 2 diabetes: Your body makes insulin, but it cannot use it the right way. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, and people can develop it at any age. Being overweight and physically inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. It can be treated with proper meal planning, exercise, and medicine.

People who are at risk for type 2 diabetes:

  • Are over age 45
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are overweight
  • Do not exercise regularly
  • Have low HDL (“good”) cholesterol or high triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood.
  • May have high blood pressure

Sometimes people overlook the warning signs of diabetes because they do not experience symptoms, or the symptoms seem harmless. It is important to talk with your health care provider if you have noticed unusual weight loss, frequent urination, or tingling or numbness in your hands or feet.

If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar at the level your healthcare provider suggests. It may help you prevent serious issues, like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, or eye problems.

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