What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease of the body's metabolism that alters its ability to make insulin. When you have diabetes, your body has difficulty processing fat, carbohydrates and protein efficiently.  

When we eat, our food is converted into sugar. It then travels in the blood stream throughout the body, supplying nourishment. In a healthy individual, insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas) regulates the metabolism by controlling glucose levels. This process enables the sugar to move from the blood to the body's cells, where it is used for energy.

When you have diabetes, your body has difficulty making and/or responding to insulin. Consequently, your body does not receive the fuel it needs to carry on and sustain normal cellular functions. This is why your blood sugar remains too high and you feel weak. Depending on your type of diabetes, you may need insulin.

What are the different types of Diabetes? 

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Type 1 Diabetes 

If your body makes little or no insulin you have Type 1 Diabetes which requires insulin daily. It is also referred to as Juvenile Diabetes.

Insulin Resistance or Poor Insulin Sensitivity 

In this form of the disease, your body produces insulin, however, it has difficulty getting glucose out of the blood.


If you are insulin resistant and your blood sugar rises slightly, you are now classified as Pre-Diabetic.

Type 2 Diabetes 

If your blood sugar rises even higher, you have Type 2 Diabetes. 

Facts about Diabetes:

  • One out of ten Americans has diabetes. For people over 60 one in five has the disease.
  • Adult onset diabetes (Type 2 Diabetes) is quickly reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. An estimated 21 million Americans have the disease. 90% have Type 2 Diabetes.
  • 41 million Americans have blood sugar levels high enough to give them "impaired glucose tolerance" which is a milder form of diabetes, sometimes called Pre-Diabetes.
  • Common complications caused by diabetes are stroke, heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage or amputation of toes or limbs.
  • Undiagnosed - 8.1 million people (27.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed)

Your risk for diabetes increases significantly if your waist line is: 40 inches or greater if you’re a man and 35 inches or greater if you’re a woman.

Symptoms & Warnings

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Fatigue or feeling tired
  • Hands or feet that tingle or feel numb
  • Most people with diabetes are not aware that they have these symptoms

Risk Factors

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Ethnic background—Hispanic Americans, African Americans & Native Americans are all at higher risk 
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood levels of triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol less than 35
  • 45 years or older
  • Poor diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Overweight (especially around the waistline)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Diabetes during pregnancy or giving birth to a baby over 9 pounds

How can I prevent Diabetes?

  • Type 1 Diabetes is not preventable.
  • Type 2 Diabetes may be prevented by controlling your weight and avoiding obesity. Eat healthy and stay active.

People 45 years or older should have their fasting blood glucose tested at least every three years. The America Diabetes Association now lists the non-fasting Hb-A1c test as the gold standard method to screen for diabetes and the maintenance of diabetes. If you are in a high risk category, begin testing at a younger age and continue to do so more frequently. 

What else do we screen for?  Learn more.