Facts about Adult Diabetes

More Americans than ever have diabetes, and the number continues to grow -- but the disease is often preventable.
The Basics of Diabetes

The technical term for diabetes is diabetes mellitus. The disease referes to the body's problems with insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin plays a vital role in metabolism -- in helping glucose (sugar) to move out of the blood into cells, which use the glucose for fuel. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there's a need to control glucose levels in the blood.

About 90 percent of all people with diabetes have type 2. Until several years ago, type 2 diabetes mostly occurred in overweight adults older than 45. Today, however, women and men in all races and ethnic groups, along with children and adolescents, are developing it.

Type 1

Type 1 is also often called juvenile diabetes because most people with type 1 diabetes develop it before age 30. In this form of the disease, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas have been destroyed.

Symptoms may include high levels of blood sugar, high levels of sugar in the urine, frequent urination, extreme hunger, extreme thirst, extreme weight loss, weakness and fatigue, moodiness and irritability, or nausea and vomiting.

Treatment: Insulin is received via injections or insulin pumps.

Possible complications of poorly controlled diabetes include kidney disease; eye damage; heart problems; compromised nerve function in the arms, hands, legs, and feet that can set the stage for ulcers and amputations; coma and death.

Type 2

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas may be producing insulin; however, there are insulin-resistance problems in the body that interfere with insulin's ability to do its job.

Symptoms may include increased thirst; frequent urination; increased appetite accompanied by weight loss; edginess; fatigue; nausea; repeated hard-to-heal infections; tingling or numbness in the hands or feet; high levels of sugar in the urine; or dry, itchy skin.

Treatment: Ten percent of type 2 patients rely on diet and exercise to manage their disease. Fifty percent are treated with oral medications; 30 percent with a combination of insulin and oral medications; and 10 percent with insulin alone.

Possible complications are the same as for type 1 diabetes.

Continued on page 2:  Risk Factors