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Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach. Normally, the pancreas releases a substance called insulin into the blood. Insulin helps the body to use sugars and fats that are broken down from the foods we eat. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas:
Does not make insulin
Makes only a little insulin or,
Makes insulin, but the insulin does not work as it should.
Diabetes is a lifelong disease. People with diabetes must manage their disease to stay healthy.
What causes diabetes?
Health care providers do not yet know what causes diabetes. The following factors may increase your chance of getting diabetes:
Family history of diabetes
Age (Chances increase with age)
How can I know if I have diabetes?
Your health care provider can perform blood and urine tests to see if you have diabetes. Normal blood sugar is between 70 mg/dl and 100 mg/dl. The standard diagnosis of diabetes is made when two blood tests show that your fasting blood sugar level (blood sugar before you have eaten anything) is 126 mg/dl or greater.
Can diabetes be cured?
No. A cure for diabetes has not yet been found. However, diabetes can be treated and controlled. Most people with diabetes manage their disease and lead normal lives.
What are the types of diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes
— The pancreas makes little or no insulin. A person with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to survive. This type occurs most often in people who are under 30 years old.
Type 1 diabetes is controlled with:
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are often severe and sudden. These symptoms include:
A need to urinate often
Weight loss (even though you are eating and feel hungry)
Weak, tired feeling
Type 2 diabetes
Insulin is made but it doesn't work as it should. Nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type occurs most often in people who are over 40 years old and overweight.
How is diabetes managed?
Diabetes is managed through proper diet, exercise and, if needed, medication. People with diabetes must use home and office tests to monitor the levels of sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides (a type of fat) in their blood. Steps are then taken to keep the levels of these substances as normal as possible.
Type 2 diabetes is controlled with:
Diet and exercise
Medicine taken by the mouth
Insulin shots (less common)
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes often go unnoticed. These symptoms build up over time and include:
Slow healing sores or cuts
Itchy skin (usually in the vaginal or groin area)
A need to urinate often