Diabetes Knowledge – Understanding Diabetes

Living with diabetes is overwhelming and confusing.

There are vast amounts of information and tools available, but where do you start?

This section can help. Think of it as your very own resource guide. Whenever you want the facts, you can come here.

Understanding what diabetes is and its different types (type 1, type 2, pre-diabetic and gestational diabetes) helps you know what is happening to your body.

Learn how testing your blood sugar can help you avoid complications in the future

Diabetes can be treated in different ways, so your treatment depends on what your doctor recommends. Learn about the treatments and find out how you can develop a healthy routine through proper nutrition and exercise.

Having too much sugar in your blood can cause complications over time. You need to know about those complications and their warning signs. You also need to know the good news: you can minimize the complications of diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels in control over time.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes means your body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone made by a gland near your stomach called the pancreas. Your body uses insulin to carry sugar from your bloodstream to your cells. Sugar is the “fuel” your body needs for all your activities – whether it is breathing, reading, walking or running. Your body changes the food you eat into a sugar called glucose. When you have diabetes, sugar is not carried properly to your cells, so too much stays in your bloodstream. This is called hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Left untreated, high blood sugar can cause a lot of damage to your body.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it usually occurs in children and young adults. That is why it often is called “Juvenile” diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, your body makes little or no insulin.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It usually occurs in people over the age of 40. With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or your cells resist the insulin.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that occurs ONLY in pregnant women who do not already have diabetes. Only a small number of women are affected. This type of diabetes usually goes away once the baby is born and occurs at about the 24th week of pregnancy, when your body makes large amounts of hormones to help your baby grow. These hormones keep your insulin from working the way it should. When this happens, your blood sugar rises.

High blood sugar will cause your baby to grow large and make insulin. Do not worry – most women with gestational diabetes have healthy babies. Still, the gestational diabetes has to be treated until your baby is born. Keeping your blood sugar as near normal as possible will help prevent problems for you and your baby.

What is Pre-Diabetes?

Pre-diabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.