What is diabetes?

Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, is unable to use insulin effectively or both.

At St. Charles Health System, our goal is for all patients to live a high quality life, with as few hospital visits as possible. Here is some basic information on how to best manage your diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

If you have Type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But over time it is not able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. When this happens, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as fuel.

Type 2 diabetes causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet, exercise and diabetic medications.

Type 1 diabetes

With Type 1 diabetes the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so the cells of the body cannot function properly. Over time these cells can stop working altogether. When this happens, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as fuel. This can be harmful to the body in many ways and leads to symptoms of diabetes.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, you must take insulin by injection or pump, in order to survive.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Increased hunger
  • Urinating frequently
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Infections that heal very slowly

You are at risk for diabetes if:

  • You have family members with diabetes
  • You are overweight
  • You have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • You have a history of diabetes while pregnant

Some complications of diabetes:

Eye disease: See your eye doctor every year for a dilated eye exam. You may need to be seen earlier if you have blurred vision, especially in one eye, or blind spots.

Kidney Disease: You should have your urine checked every year. It is important to control your blood pressure (less than 130/80) in addition to your blood sugars to protect your kidneys.

Nerve Disease: Report numbness, tingling, burning or pain in your feet to your health care provider. Look at your feet every day for redness, calluses and cracks.

All people with diabetes have an increased risk for infection, heart disease and strokes. Heart attacks are the major cause of death in people with diabetes.