Diabetes (“dy-ah-BEE-teez”) is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States. Diabetes increases the risk of serious health problems like:
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes, including:
- Watching your weight
- Eating healthy
- Staying active
What is diabetes?
Diabetes means you have glucose (sugar) levels in your blood that are higher than usual. Your body depends on glucose for energy. When you eat, most of the food turns into glucose. Your blood carries the glucose to other parts of your body.
When you have diabetes, your body has trouble turning glucose into energy. Instead of being used by your body, the glucose builds up in your blood and your body is starved of energy.
Diabetes is a chronic (long-term) condition.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. People who are overweight are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.
What other types of diabetes are there?
- Type 1 diabetes is caused by a problem with the immune system (the system that helps fight infection). Right now, there’s no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
- Gestational (“jes-TAY-shon-al”) diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of health problems for you and your baby. For example, gestational diabetes can make it more likely that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes?
You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are over age 40
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Are African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- Have had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (when a woman’s ovaries produce more male hormones than usual)
- Have high blood pressure or cholesterol
- Exercise less than 3 times a week
- Have prediabetes
What is prediabetes?
If you have prediabetes, the glucose levels in your blood are higher than usual – but not high enough to mean you have type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, like heart disease and stroke.
The good news about prediabetes is that healthy changes, like losing weight and getting enough physical activity, can stop it from becoming type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop over several years. Many people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms for a long time without noticing them. Some people may never notice any symptoms.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Being very thirsty or hungry
- Feeling tired for no reason
- Urinating (going to the bathroom) more than usual
- Losing weight for no reason
- Having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- Having trouble seeing (blurry vision)
- Losing feeling or having tingling in your hands or feet
Because symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be hard to spot, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your risk for type 2 diabetes. If you notice any symptoms, ask your doctor about getting tested.