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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Many people in our community don’t know they have diabetes because they have never been tested. Many just try to cope with the symptoms, not knowing why they feel the way they do.

The results of untreated diabetes can be devastating-blindness, amputations, heart disease and other serious problems.

Types of Diabetes

  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a lifetime condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Why is Insulin Important?

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5 to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. With the help of insulin therapy and educations, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, and happy lives.

Some symptoms of type 1 diabetes may include:

  • Rapid weight loss without dieting
  • Feeling very thirsty, dry mouth
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Excessive urination
  • Stomach pain, nausea/vomiting
  • Fruity, sweet smell in breath
  • Heavy labored breathing
  • Confusion

Type 2 Diabetes

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is a lifetime condition that affects the way your body breaks down sugar (glucose), your body's main source of fuel. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn't make enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is common and has grown into epidemic levels. It is more common in people who are overweight and do not get enough physical activity.

There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you can manage or even prevent the condition. Start by eating healthy foods, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough, you may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy to manage your blood sugar.

Some symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include:

  • Feeling very thirsty, dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Fatigue or feeling more tired than usual
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark pigmentation around neck (acanthosis nigricans)

Gestational Diabetes

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational (jes-TAY-shun-ul) diabetes is a type of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. It means you have never had diabetes before. Having gestational diabetes means you have a problem with high blood sugar while you are pregnant. The treatment is to control blood sugar. This can help prevent a difficult birth. It also helps keep your baby healthy. When you are pregnant, too much glucose is not good for your baby.

Reported rates of gestational diabetes range from 2 to 10% of all pregnancies. Immediately after pregnancy, 5 to 10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have diabetes, usually type 2. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10 to 20 years. Many women who have gestational diabetes get type 2 diabetes later in life. Controlling your weight gain during pregnancy may prevent type 2 diabetes in the future.

Some symptoms of gestational diabetes may include:

Most women may not have symptoms of gestational diabetes. Sometimes, symptoms of diabetes may be confused with symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Please speak with your doctor about an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to find out if you have gestational diabetes.

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