Diabetes Facts

 

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE DIABETES?

People who do not have diabetes have Fasting Plasma Glucose levels less than 100 mg/dl and their A1C test (which estimates their average glucoses over the past 2 to 3 months) will be less than 5.7%.


YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETES IF YOU:

  • Are Overweight or Obese
  • Are 57 years of age or older
  • Have close relatives, such as a parent, sister or brother, who have diabetes
  • Are in an ethnic group such as African American, Latino, Native American, or Asian American/Pacific Islander
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are a woman who has had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth, or who had Gestational Diabetes


SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and irritability
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
  • **People with Type 2 Diabetes may have no symptoms.


THERE ARE SEVERAL TYPES OF DIABETES, AS WELL AS A CONDITION KNOWN AS PRE-DIABETES:

Pre-Diabetes—Most people who eventually develop Type 2 diabetes usually have had higher than normal blood glucoses for a long time before they are diagnosed with diabetes.  If your Fasting Plasma Glucose is 100 to 126 mg/dl (or your A1C test is between 5.7% and 6.4%), then you are in the Pre-Diabetes range.  Pre-diabetes should be taken seriously.  People with Pre-diabetes have the opportunity to make changes in their diet, exercise habits, and body weight to help delay or prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

If your Fasting Plasma Glucose is 126 mg/dl or more (or your A1C test is > 6.5%), then you have diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes—Only about 5% of people with diabetes have this type.  It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but occasionally is diagnosed in an older person.  In Type 1 Diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin at all and insulin injections, as well as other management, are necessary.

Type 2 Diabetes—This is the most common type of diabetes.  It is most often diagnosed in older people, but more and more it is being diagnosed in children and young adults.  In Type 2 Diabetes, your body is still making insulin, but not enough or the body cells aren’t responding to the insulin well.  Often people with Type 2 Diabetes have no symptoms, so they may have the condition for a long time before they are diagnosed. Type 2 Diabetes can be managed with a variety of oral medications, healthy diet, physical activity, and weight reduction if needed. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive disease and some people will eventually need insulin injections if their bodies can not make enough.

Gestational Diabetes—Many women develop Gestational diabetes in the later stages of pregnancy (usually around the 24th week).  When you have gestational diabetes, you should follow your doctor’s advice and keep your blood sugars as close to normal as possible. Management usually includes healthy diet, physical activity, and close glucose monitoring. Sometimes insulin injections are needed.  


SOME DIABETES MYTHS

Myth:  Diabetes is not a serious disease.
Fact:  Diabetes, even in the early stages, is a very serious disease.  Diabetes causes more deaths each year than breast cancer and AIDS combines.  Whether you have pre-diabetes or have had diabetes for many years, it is a serious matter and you should take steps to keep your blood glucose as close to the normal range as possible.

Myth:  Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact:  This is not true. Type 1 diabetes is inherited or can be caused by unknown factors. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by inherited factors as well as lifestyle factors such as being overweight/obese and not getting enough exercise.

Myth:  People with diabetes have to eat special “diabetic” foods.
Fact:  Foods labeled “diabetic” or “dietetic” offer no special benefit.  Most foods labeled “sugar free” are not carbohydrate or calorie free and can not be eaten freely.  Also, most of these food items are very expensive.  People with diabetes should eat a healthy well-balanced diet just like everyone else—low in fat, moderate in salt and sugar, and containing the right amount of carbohydrate and calories for the individual.

Myth:  If you have diabetes, you should avoid or eat only small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.
Fact:  Starchy foods are part of a healthy diet—even for people with diabetes.  Portion size is the important factor.  Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn can and should be included in meals and snacks.  Your dietitian can help you determine how much you need at each meal.

Myth:  You can catch diabetes from someone else.
Fact:  Not true.  Diabetes is not contagious.

Myth:  If you have Type 2 Diabetes and you need to start taking insulin, it means you have failed to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact:  Type 2 Diabetes is usually a progressive disease.  Over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal.  Using insulin to keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Myth:  Fruit is a healthy food and it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.
Fact:  Fruit is certainly a healthy food.  It is loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals that help keep you healthy.  Fruit also contains a lot of carbohydrate, so for people with diabetes portion control is a must.  Talk to your dietitian about the amount and frequency of fruit that you should eat.

(Adapted from “Diabetes Myths” by the American Diabetes Association—www.diabetes.org.)