Living with Diabetes? Learn More About What It Means

Living with Diabetes? Learn More About What It Means

Lee esto en EspañolMost of the food we eat is turned into glucose (sugar). Our bodies use this sugar to fuel our cells with the energy they need to work the right way. It’s a fine balance, though. When blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, it can put a person at risk for a serious long-term health issue — diabetes.

The pancreas is an organ that lies near the stomach. It works to keep glucose levels under control. It also makes insulin, a hormone that helps glucose get into our cells. In someone with diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use insulin the way it should. As a result, an unhealthy level of sugar builds up in the blood.

The best defense against the diabetes is to educate yourself about the disease. Know how to take care of yourself if you are diagnosed with the disease.

Learn More About Diabetes 
  • Diabetes is a serious long-term health issue that affects people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and genders. 
  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • More than 38 million people have the disease and one-in-five of them don’t even know it.
  • There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both are caused when the body has trouble making or using insulin.
  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make enough, or stops making insulin altogether. Type 1 diabetes can come on quickly. It often strikes children and teenagers, but can show up later in life. Type 1 diabetes can't be cured, but it can be managed by taking insulin. 
  • With Type 2 diabetes, the body's cells don't respond to insulin. When sugar can't get into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes is often triggered by being overweight or obese and not getting much physical activity. Having a family history of diabetes or being over age 45 also increases the risk.
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% of cases in the United States.
  • Diabetes can lead to serious health issues. It boosts the risks for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower-limb amputation. 
  • Early detection and treatment can help prevent these other health issues.
  • Good self-management, plus following treatment and medication plans are linked to good health outcomes and a better quality of life.
Source: Diabetesleaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023

Originally published 11/23/2015; Revised 2019, 2022, 2024