Diabetes, what you should know

Woman holding glucose meter

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily living. The cause of diabetes is related to both genetic and environmental factors such as diet, obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population –have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years.

The report confirms that the rate of new diabetes diagnoses remains steady. However, the disease continues to represent a growing health problem: Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015. The report also includes county-level data for the first time, and shows that some areas of the country bear a heavier diabetes burden than others.

In order to determine whether or not a patient has pre-diabetes or diabetes, health care providers conduct a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Either test can be used to diagnose pre-diabetes or diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends the FPG because it is easier, faster, and less expensive to perform.

With the FPG test, a fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl signals pre-diabetes. A person with a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher has diabetes.

In the OGTT test, a person’s blood glucose level is measured after a fast and two hours after drinking a glucose-rich beverage. If the two-hour blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl, the person tested has pre-diabetes. If the two-hour blood glucose level is at 200 mg/dl or higher, the person tested has diabetes.

The test may be needed but seems harmful in its process by exposing someone who is already having trouble absorbing sugar to more of it.

Diabetes Types

Type 1 diabetes

Results from the body’s failure to produce enough insulin, the hormone that “unlocks” the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency. Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women – about 135,000 cases in the United States alone each year.

Pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 41 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 20.8 million with diabetes.

What to do

Consult your Doctor if you feel you are at risk for diabetes. Ignoring it can lead to organ damage and worsening health.  Try changes in your diet and exercise.  Eat less carbs and sweets.  Try to be active at least 30 minutes per day.  Learn all you can about managing this condition, because knowledge and acting on it can make a world of difference. For the better.

Natural Help

Did you know?: Cinnamon and Bitter Melon can help regulate your blood sugar levels.  It’s not a cure though. 

Useful resources

Get Real About Diabetes