Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body has trouble using the sugar it gets from food for energy. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar can have immediate effects, like blurry vision. It can also cause problems over time, like heart disease and blindness.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes (once called juvenile-onset diabetes) and type 2 diabetes (once called adult-onset diabetes). Both are caused by problems making or using insulin, a hormone that makes it possible for cells to use glucose, also known as blood sugar, for energy.

When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into a simple sugar called glucose. It also produces a hormone called insulin that signals the body's cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make enough insulin, or stops making it altogether. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells don't respond to insulin. Either way, since sugar can't get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. 

Too much sugar in the blood can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. These include:

  • blurry vision
  • intense thirst
  • need to urinate often
  • fatigue
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

Type 1 diabetes often comes on suddenly. It usually strikes children and teenagers, but can appear later in life. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning it happens because the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the body's insulin-making cells. Type 1 diabetes can't be cured, but it can be managed by taking insulin before eating.

Type 2 diabetes takes longer to develop. It can begin any time from childhood onward. Type 2 diabetes is usually triggered by being overweight or obese and not getting much physical activity. Treatment for type 2 diabetes includes weight loss if needed, daily exercise, a healthy diet, and medications.

Diabetes Articles

Midlife heart health shows a link with future risk of dementia

People who have high blood pressure and diabetes and who smoke during middle age have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. These vascular (blood vessel) risk factors may leave them more prone to dementia 25 years later. Having diabetes in middle age may be almost as risky as having the gene variant known as APOE4, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Even slightly elevated blood pressure during midlife may be associated with dementia in later life. (Locked) More »

Test may someday help predict diabetes risk

A new test called lipoprotein insulin resistance may more accurately predict whether a woman will develop type 2 diabetes than existing methods of assessing risk, such as family history of the disease, body mass index, and blood glucose levels. The test can pick up on signs of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, before a woman has an abnormal glucose test. (Locked) More »

Stop diabetes before it begins

An estimated one out of three American adults is prediabetic, which means blood sugar levels are higher than normal but below the threshold for type 2 diabetes. Yet 90% of these people do not realize they are in this dangerous gray zone. Seeing a doctor to determine if any of the common risk factors exists and getting blood sugar levels checked to determine if you have prediabetes are the first steps to stopping type 2 diabetes from occurring. (Locked) More »

Why nutritionists are crazy about nuts

Eating fewer than five 1.5-ounce servings per week of nuts and seeds has been linked to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and diabetes. To reduce health risks, snack on nuts and seeds, substitute them for meat, or add them to cereals, salads, and main dishes. (Locked) More »

Why middle-age spread is a health threat

Visceral fat — the padding around the abdominal organs — produces hormones and other molecules that promote inflammation, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise and avoiding simple sugars can help reduce visceral fat. (Locked) More »

Are you on the road to a diabetes diagnosis?

Having a higher-than-normal blood sugar level (100 and 125 mg/dL) is known as prediabetes, a condition that puts people at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Most people with prediabetes are overweight, and excess fat in the abdominal area is especially risky. Belly fat makes hormones and other substances that trigger chronic inflammation, which contributes to insulin resistance and sets the stage for prediabetes. Weight loss and exercise can help reverse the problem. (Locked) More »