There are over 34 million people currently living with diabetes in the
United States. The disease is the
seventh leading cause of death
in this country and can cause nerve damage, kidney failure, heart attacks,
strokes, blindness, and disabilities. Fortunately, diabetes is highly
manageable and many of these complications can be prevented with some
The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Both versions are
chronic, meaning they are ongoing and must be managed regularly with help
from health care professionals. There is currently no cure for either form
Type 1 diabetes:
With type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce
insulin. Insulin is important because it breaks down food and helps glucose
(sugar) get to your cells so your body can use it for energy. Without
insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. People with type 1 diabetes must
take insulin daily. Although type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in
children or adolescents, it can also occur in adulthood. About
10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.
Type 2 diabetes:
With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t
process insulin correctly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of
diabetes. It can either be managed through a healthy diet and exercise or
through medication or insulin injections.
Other Forms of Diabetes
Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal.
Although levels aren’t high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes, without
lifestyle changes, those with prediabetes are likely to develop type 2
More than 88 million American adults have prediabetes, but
more than 84 percent
don’t know they have it. This is because prediabetes does not have any
symptoms. But there are plenty of risks. Prediabetes
increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and
stroke. The good news is that many people with prediabetes respond well to early
treatment and lifestyle changes, and with some moderate tweaks, their blood
sugar levels can return to normal.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary version of diabetes that appears during
pregnancy in people who did not previously have diabetes. With gestational
diabetes, the body can’t make enough insulin. People with gestational
diabetes are at a higher risk of complications both during their pregnancy
and while giving birth. Those with gestational diabetes have an
increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
in the future.
Know the Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetes are different for everyone, and may develop so slowly
they go unnoticed. Many people do not have any signs or symptoms at all.
Symptoms of diabetes may include:
• Increased thirst and hunger
• Frequent urination
• Cuts, bruises, or sores that do not heal
• Blurry vision
• Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
• Unexplained weight loss
Living Well with Diabetes
If you are living with diabetes, or have been recently diagnosed, it’s
important to know that it is possible to
manage your diabetes well, and not let it control your life. Yes, it’s a serious illness that can
cause health complications if left unchecked, but it’s also very
Preventive care practices
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people
with diabetes who follow a
few preventive care practices
are better able to manage their diabetes. These practices include:
• Getting regular
• Getting annual foot and eye exams
• Attending diabetes self-management classes
• Monitoring blood sugar levels every day
There are steps you can take to
reduce your risks for developing type 2 diabetes
or to better manage this condition if you have it.
• Be physically active
for at least 30 minutes every day.
• Choose healthier foods as often as possible.
Pick foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fats and sugar.
Stick to water whenever possible. Learn about the
Diabetes Plate Method. And if you don’t know where to start, a dietitian can help create a
that works for you.
• Lose weight.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be daunting. Small steps go a long way. If you
are overweight, losing just ten pounds may be enough to prevent or delay
• Avoid tobacco.
Smoking increases your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular
These lifestyle changes may also be complemented by
to control blood glucose levels, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
A Plan That Works for You
Diabetes management is highly individualized, so it’s important to work
with your doctors to create a
diabetes management plan
that works for you.
This article was originally published on
About Sarah Bishop
I’m a writer and bookworm who loves learning and writing about the latest
health and wellness topics. Like a true Gemini, I’m a walking dichotomy. I
like kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, but I also like ice cream, fried
chicken, and cheese. So, I’m always fighting the good fight. As the mom of
two little girls, I strive to model healthy habits that my daughters will
carry with them for life.