Diabetes refers to any disease in which your blood sugar levels are above normal. These high blood sugar levels can occur for several reasons, and the reasons behind the elevated blood sugar usually help your doctor determine what “type” of diabetes you have. Ultimately, however, diabetes usually has to do with insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate glucose, or blood sugar, levels. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or doesn’t properly use the insulin it does produce, then diabetes is the result.
Types of Diabetes
There are several different types of diabetes. The most common form is type 2 diabetes, accounting for more than 90 percent of diabetes cases. It used to be called “adult-onset diabetes” because it typically develops in adulthood. With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't use insulin as efficiently as it used to, and high blood sugar is the result. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include family history, ethnic background, old age, obesity and inactivity, among others.
Type 1 diabetes typically starts in childhood and accounts for about 5 percent of all diabetes cases. With type 1 diabetes, the body produces too little insulin or none at all. It is thought to be more of a genetic or environmental disorder and is not preventable, like some cases of type 2 diabetes.
There are rare forms of diabetes, as well. Some women will develop gestational diabetes while pregnant. And there are forms of diabetes known as monogenic diabetes, neonatal diabetes mellitus and maturity-onset diabetes of the young that all seem to be related to some type of genetic disorder.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Without treatment, it can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Treatments for diabetes will vary, but most require some combination of healthy eating to regulate blood sugar, regular exercise and medication. Those with type 1 diabetes usually need to take some form of insulin on a regular basis in order to regulate their blood sugar. Medication is not always required for type 2 diabetes, but several forms of medication often help people with type 2 diabetes regulate blood sugar along with a good diet and exercise.
SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Data review shows some meds help more than others, but better options still needed
Those with type 2 disease should see eye doc right away, while type 1 patients can wait 5 years
Study found a link between increases in temperature and more cases of the blood sugar disease
Fatty deposits in the organ, along with diabetes, can raise the risk, researchers and specialists say
Ways to help ward off complications
Up to 40 percent experienced temporary remission, small study finds
Study finds 3-plus hours each day linked to increased body fat and insulin resistance
Study also found a jump in heart disease and stroke odds
People who ate least amount of this protein slightly more likely to develop type 2 disease, study suggests
Narrowing of blood vessels in the retina could mimic what's happening in lower limbs, research suggests
If mothers have heart disease risk factors, nutrient benefits children, study suggests
Study explores which foods and nutrients may be helpful or harmful
Factors that make the disease more likely
Severe gum disease can signal undiagnosed case of blood sugar disease
Diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking may set you up for Alzheimer's, research suggests
Study confirms numerous hazards, and experts stress the condition must be treated immediately
After procedure, some patients were able to stop taking insulin to control their blood sugar, researchers report
American Heart Association estimates that nearly half of Americans will have heart disease in less than 20 years
Large study found association, but did not prove cause and effect
Study of obese Hispanic children suggests smog might boost chances of developing the blood sugar disorder
Inaccurate reading may affect diagnosis and treatment of the blood sugar disease, study says
Type 2 diabetes onset or worsening may be early sign of deadly, hard-to-detect cancer, study suggests
Longer survival with the virus might make people more vulnerable to chronic conditions, researchers suggest
4 out of 10 'skinny fat' people had higher blood sugar by middle age, study finds
Healthy weight adults who are inactive may be at risk for pre-diabetes, study finds.
Condition is third-highest cause of death, study finds
Studies found poor doctor-patient communication hampered medication use, proper blood sugar control
It found chances increased even more if woman had suffered an earlier bout of depression
It's important to make sure feet stay as dry as possible, especially between the toes
Proper footwear a must, especially for people with nerve damage or extreme sensitivity to cold, foot surgeon says
Kidney failure down by 54 percent over 2 decades, CDC report finds
Studies suggest significant out-of-pocket costs may harm low-income and chronically ill patients
But enterovirus infections probably aren't the only culprit, researchers say
Association similar to that from high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes, researchers say
American College of Physicians updated diabetes guidelines, said second drug can be added
The American Medical Association offers seven goals to get you started
Specialists recommend low-carb energy sources between meals
Top 5 diseases, conditions accounted for $437 billion in 2013
Channel anger into becoming healthier
Dexcom G5 is first continuous glucose monitoring system that can be used for treatment decisions
Plan for possible emergencies
Those with blood sugar disease showed more early warning signs of heart failure
Drinking coffee may help prevent Metabolic Syndrome in women, study finds.
Study counters notion that vigorous exercise is key to battling the illness
American Diabetes Association asks Congress to investigate the matter
Guarding against obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes at middle age may slash risk, study finds
Research suggests older, less-educated females are missing out on help or support
Vascular expert urges regular doctor visits, eye exams, healthy lifestyle
Chances of an early death double if smoker also has the blood sugar disease, study finds
Rates have dropped over last decade, and better education might be one reason why