Diabetes in Adults

Diabetes in Adults: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to diabetes.

  • Diabetes is caused by lack of insulin, a hormone that is essential for getting energy from food.
  • There are two types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, which often starts in children, the body stops making insulin completely. In type 2 diabetes, the body still makes some insulin, but cannot use it properly.
  • Diabetes is at epidemic proportions in the United States. About 17 million people in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes. One third of those people are unaware that they have the condition.
  • Several factors put people at higher risk for diabetes, including obesity, a family history of the condition, and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • A doctor diagnoses diabetes using a blood test to measure glucose levels in the blood. A special test called an oral glucose tolerance test may also be necessary.
  • Diabetes usually requires a team of treatment specialists, including a regular doctor, a diabetes educator who may be a registered nurse, a nutritionist, and an endocrinologist.
  • Diabetes can often be initially controlled through lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet and following a diabetes meal plan, and getting regular exercise.
  • Several medications are available to help treat diabetes. These are usually taken in pill form and either help the body make more insulin or help the body’s cells use insulin more efficiently.
  • The key to diabetes management is controlling blood sugar and avoiding hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. People with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar regularly using a glucose meter.
  • People whose bodies don’t make any insulin, or who are not helped adequately by medication, may need to take daily insulin shots.
  • Diabetes can cause complications, including heart disease, nerve damage, and blindness. Proper management of the condition through diet, exercise, and medication can help prevent complications.
  • Diabetes has emotional and mental implications as well as physical ones. People who have diabetes should know the symptoms of depression, talk to their treatment team about how they are feeling, and perhaps join a support group.

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