Diabetes Overview

Diabetes is a serious long-term medical condition. Even though it can't be cured, you have the power to manage it by thoroughly understanding the condition, setting goals and planning how to achieve them.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high. Most of the food you eat breaks down into glucose, the main source of energy for your body. Too much glucose is not good for your health.

Insulin is the hormone or chemical made by your pancreas (a gland organ behind the stomach) that helps your body use glucose for energy. When your body doesn't make enough insulin or if the insulin doesn't work properly, this can cause the glucose to stay in your blood creating high blood sugar and causing diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes little or no insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin shots, along with a proper diet and exercise to stay healthy.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas makes some insulin, but either it is not enough or the cells do not use it properly. Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar level with proper diet and exercise; others need diabetes pills and or/insulin as well.

Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops in approximately five percent of pregnant women. Women who develop it have a higher lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Causes of Diabetes
The causes of diabetes are currently unknown, but there are some factors that can place people at a higher risk to develop it, including:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Being over the age of 45
  • Being of African, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage
  • History of gestational diabetes or having delivered a baby weighing over nine pounds
  • Inactivity

Signs of Diabetes
Some of the signs of diabetes include:

  • Feeling very tired and weak
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Losing weight without trying, even with an increased appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of wounds or infections
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands, legs or feet
  • Vomiting or stomach pain
  • Sexual problems (impotence in men, decrease in vaginal fluids in women)

Treatment of Diabetes
Your doctor will likely recommend that you:

  • Eat three meals and up to two snacks a day (don't skip meals)
  • Exercise and keep active
  • Monitor your blood sugar link to blood sugar levels - monitoring blood sugar regularly
  • Take your medication or insulin as prescribed

To ensure that you are up to date on the latest information on diabetes, participate in an educational diabetes program. Check out our Covenant Diabetes Center to see how you can stay educated and treat your diabetes.