Diabetes: What is it?

Are you new to diabetes and just want to learn a bit on what it’s all about? If you are, this is a good place to start. There are 3 main types of diabetes.

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There are 3 Main Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to produce enough and/or properly use insulin.


  • Type 1 diabetes – a type of diabetes where the body attacks the cells that make insulin. This type is unpreventable and usually starts in childhood
  • Type 2 diabetes – develops over time and occurs either when
    • the body can’t use the insulin it makes
    • the pancreas can’t make enough insulin
  • Gestational diabetes – a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy
Did you know that high blood glucose damages your blood vessels? This is why diabetes can cause so many complications.
 

Type 1 Diabetes

In order for your body to have energy, it needs glucose. Glucose comes from the foods you eat.

Insulin is a hormone that helps your body control the level of glucose in your blood by moving it into cells to be used as energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into your cells.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas. With type 1 diabetes your pancreas doesn’t make any insulin.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. It usually starts in childhood but can start at any age.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes refers to blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes.

Knowing if you have prediabetes is important because it
  1. Increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – and its complications
  2. Is like a warning system letting you know it’s time do something to lower your risk of getting diabetes

Taking care of your prediabetes now will help to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes later.

You normally don't need any medication but you should try to eat the right foods, exercise daily and lose weight if you are overweight.
 

Type 2 Diabetes

In order for your body to have energy, it needs glucose. Glucose comes from the foods you eat.

Insulin is a hormone that helps your body control the level of glucose in your blood by moving it into cells to be used as energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into your cells.

In type 2 diabetes your pancreas either does not make enough insulin, or your body does not use the insulin properly, or both.

Some things that can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes:
  • Being overweight
  • Little exercise
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Having prediabetes
 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is diabetes that occurs for the first time during pregnancy. Your body cannot produce enough insulin to handle a growing baby and changing hormone levels.

This puts both you and your baby at risk. So if you are pregnant, ask your doctor about getting tested for diabetes.

GDM can:
  • Cause the baby to get too big, making delivery difficult
  • Put you both at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future

GDM can be treated to help make sure you have a healthy baby.

After the baby is born blood glucose levels usually go back to normal.

 

Treatment (in a nutshell)

  1. Education
  2. Exercise
    • lowers the risk of complications including heart disease
    • lowers blood glucose
    • maintains a healthy weight
    • reduces stress
    • maintains fitness
  3. Proper nutrition also helps control blood glucose
  4. Medication:
    • Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, nutrition and exercise
    • Type 2 diabetes is managed with exercise and nutrition and possibly medications and/or insulin to help control blood glucose
    • Gestational is managed with exercise and nutrition and sometimes insulin
  5. Lowering stress can help manage blood glucose levels.

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is knowledgeable about all kinds of Diabetes and how to manage the condition. Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.



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