Understanding Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Your body needs energy to perform daily activities. This energy comes from foods containing protein, fats and carbohydrates that are broken down by the body and changed into glucose (blood sugars).

Insulin is a hormone that is needed by the body to utilize glucose. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make use of the glucose in the blood, either because the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin (Type 1) or the insulin produced is not used effectively, resulting in high blood sugar (Type 2.)

It is estimated that about 8% of the US population (about 24 million people) has some form of diabetes.  Studies show half of these people (about 12 million) don’t even know they have diabetes.

There are several types of diabetes. The most common, Type 2, accounts for approximately 90% of all cases. It usually occurs in adults over 40 who are overweight or have a family history of diabetes.

Managing Your Diabetes

The goal of treatment for all types of diabetes is to keep the glucose within a normal range. Diabetes can often be controlled with diet and exercise alone, although some people may need oral medications or insulin injections. Research has shown that keeping glucose levels close to normal may help prevent or delay complications such as eye, heart, kidney and nerve damage. Balancing diet, exercise and medication is the key to good control. Daily monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential. Use the results from your glucose monitor as a tool to gauge how your body is doing throughout the day. By managing your life and illness today, you will reduce the complications of diabetes tomorrow.