Diabetes | Overview

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If you just found out you have diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions and you may feel a little uncertain. But you're not alone. In the United States, 23.6 million people have diabetes. Most of these people lead full, healthy lives. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn all you can about diabetes. This article will tell you some of the basics about diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when a person’s body doesn’t make enough of the hormone insulin or can’t use insulin properly. There are 2 types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body’s pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body’s cells ignore the insulin. Between 90% and 95% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. It is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it is usually discovered in children and teenagers, but adults may also have it.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore the insulin.

Can children get type 2 diabetes?

Yes. In the past, doctors thought that only adults were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, an increasing number of children in the United States are now being diagnosed with the disease. Doctors think this increase is mostly because more children are overweight or obese and are less physically active.

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but not so high that your doctor can say you have diabetes. Pre-diabetes is becoming more common in the United States. It greatly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that you can take steps to prevent or delay the onset of full-blown type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly.

Can I live a normal life with diabetes?

Yes, you can live a normal life. You can stay healthy if you do what it takes to control your diabetes.

 

Portions of this article were developed by the American Academy of Family Physicians in cooperation with the American Diabetes Association.

Portions of this article were developed as part of an educational program made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from LifeScan, Inc., makers of OneTouch Blood Glucose Meters.

Portions of this article were developed with general underwriting support from The Coca-Cola Company.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 01/11
Created: 01/99

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