Diabetes:More Than Just a Little Sugar

June 1st, 2009

A little sugar, a touch of sugar, sugar in the blood, or sugar diabetes….some people think “a touch a sugar” is a mild form of diabetes. But who’s kidding who? You either have diabetes, or you don’t. There is no such thing as “a little sugar,” and diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar. Here are the facts about diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that causes your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels to remain above normal. People with diabetes have trouble converting food to energy. After eating-especially foods containing carbohydrates, like bread, cereal, fruit, vegetable and milk – the pancreas is alerted to make a hormone called insulin. The job of insulin is to take glucose out of the bloodstream and help it to enter the cells of the body, where the glucose can be stored or used as a source of energy. When you have diabetes, the process does not happen as it should. Either your body does not make enough insulin or insulin is not used properly. The end result is a buildup of glucose in your blood that, over the years, can have serious health consequences. Too much glucose in the blood can damage nerves and blood vessels, which can ultimately result in heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputations.

There are three main kinds of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. 

Type 1 Diabetes

When you have type 1 diabetes, your body is not able to make enough of its own insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal. People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to live. Because of this, type 1 diabetes was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, because it usually occurred in childhood or adolescence. However, it may occur at any age. Approximately 1 out of every 10 people with diabetes has type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin (which is called insulin deficiency), or the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly ( which is called insulin resistance).

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. 9 out of every 10 people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. Type 2 diabetes, once thought of as an adult disease, has now reached epidemic proportions among our youth.

Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in people who:

  • Are over 40 years of age
  • Are overweight or physically inactive
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Have a history of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Have given birth to a large baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American or American Indian
  • Gestational Diabetes

    Some women develop gestational diabetes during the late stages of pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy or a shortage of insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs most frequently among African American, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and American Indians. It is most common among obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had gestational diabetes has a 20% to 50% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5 to 10 years, and is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

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