Education Article /  About Diabetes

About Diabetes

Posted by National CPR Association |

Jun 06, 2018

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that can be described as a metabolic disorder that affects how the body uses food for energy and growth. It is characterized by persistently high blood sugar levels, which if uncontrolled may lead to life-threatening complications. Diabetes affects almost eight percent of the American population, or about 24 million people.

What is Diabetes?

“Diabetes” is a term used to describe a group of conditions that involve high blood sugar levels due to a disorder in glucose (sugar) metabolism. Glucose is a simple form of sugar which is derived from digested foods and is utilized by the body as a source of energy. In diabetes, the cells of the body are unable to use glucose from the blood, resulting in the accumulation of glucose in the circulation. Here are some resources that provide an overview of diabetes:

Diabetes Overview. This overview from WebMD is a simple but informative resource for people who want to learn about the disease at a glance.

Diabetes mellitus. Medicine Net provides quick facts and short summaries on the definition, impact, causes, symptoms and other details of diabetes.

Diabetes. Mayo Clinic presents a compact library about what lay people should know about the basics of diabetes. Various tabs on the webpage also provide expert answers and blogs about the disease.

Public health information on the basics of diabetes is provided here by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What are the Types of Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of conditions that may be classified into Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and other temporary conditions such as prediabetes, gestational diabetes, and secondary diabetes. Up to 95 percent of people with high blood sugar levels have type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Although it used to be called adult onset diabetes mellitus because it was usually diagnosed in middle-aged adults, much younger individuals, including adolescents, are now developing the condition. Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), is also known as juvenile-onset diabetes because it is usually diagnosed among children and adolescents. These two types of diabetes are chronic (life-long) conditions for which there is no cure. However, blood sugar levels may be controlled by diet, medications, and lifestyle changes.

On the other hand, some people develop a temporary condition with elevated blood sugar levels, which may be related to another condition. For example, some pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, which usually resolves after childbirth. Other conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, trauma and surgery may also trigger abnormal sugar metabolism, leading to secondary diabetes, which may resolve after treating the primary condition. For more information about the types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes. This easy-to-understand overview describes how people develop an immune system disorder that leads to the destruction of pancreatic cells and the body’s inability to use glucose.

Type 2 Diabetes Overview. The body is able to produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to absorb glucose from the blood, but it either develops insulin resistance or does not produce enough of it. Learn more about the mechanisms of how one acquires this disease.

Types of Diabetes. Diabetes Education Online provides a tab with rich resources on the various types of diabetes, including basic facts, FAQs, and research.

 What is Gestational Diabetes? The American Diabetes Association describes this condition that affects some pregnant women and how it can affect their babies.

Prediabetes. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal but is not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, you may have condition a called prediabetes.

This page provides a short summary of the possible causes of diabetes, including those that may cause temporary disorders in sugar metabolism.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, about seven million Americans have undetected diabetes. It is important to detect diabetes early, so that prompt treatment can be instituted and complications may be averted.

Diabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern. Diabetes symptoms may be subtle, but here’s what one should look for when suspecting diabetes.

How overeating can lead to diabetes. This study explains how overeating leads to diabetes, and why people who overeat must watch out for their risk of developing the disease.

Understanding Diabetes – Symptoms. This page gives information on what symptoms should prompt you to call your doctor.

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of diabetes is based on clinical evaluation and laboratory tests. After doing a though medical history and physical examination, a doctor usually requests specific blood tests to determine if you have elevated blood sugar levels even after fasting for several hours (Fasting Blood Glucose level), and after challenging your tolerance for oral sugar intake (Oral Glucose Tolerance test). Other tests may also be done to monitor your blood sugar levels over the course of few months (Hgb A1C test). A urine test may be done to determine if sugar is present, which indicates abnormal glucose management.

Diagnosing Diabetes. This article describes the primary blood tests which are used to make a diagnosis of diabetes.

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Level. Blood sugar levels in diabetics are usually monitored for adequate control using the A1C test and the self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG).

Diabetes Tests and Diagnosis. Different diabetes types are diagnosed according to certain criteria, based on clinical evaluation and laboratory tests.

How is Diabetes Treated?

The treatment of diabetes may involve a combination of strategies that include diet modification, lifestyle changes, and medications. It is important to control blood sugar levels to prevent serious complications such as kidney disease, loss of vision, non-healing wounds, heart disease and more.

What Is Diabetes and How Can I Manage It? This brochure provides a brief description of how patients can help themselves in the management of diabetes.

Be Active. It is important to be physically active to control blood sugar levels, and the CDC gives its recommendations on the types and how much exercise one can do to stay healthy.

Insulin & Other Injectables. Everything you need to know about insulin, the main treatment for type 1 diabetes and some patients who have other types of diabetes, can be accessed through the links provided on this page of the American Diabetes Association.

Oral Medications for Diabetes. The different types of diabetes pills are described on this webpage, including information on how they work, their common side effects and possible drug interactions.

The CDC has prepared this portable handbook, which may be downloaded to your computer or printed, if desired. It provides a comprehensive guide on how one can live with diabetes and maintain health. It also includes instructions on how to track one’s blood glucose levels to help prevent serious complications of the disease.