Understanding diabetes is important because it is a disease which can cause life-threatening complications if uncontrolled but allows an almost normal life if managed well. An essential feature of diabetes is raised blood glucose levels. The body’s hormone which checks glucose levels is insulin. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by promoting its uptake by tissues to use as a fuel. When insulin production is diminished or tissues become resistant to its effect, diabetes occurs.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report states that over 29 million Americans have diabetes. That is quite significant as it means that almost every tenth person is affected. Studies have also proven that it is the seventh leading cause of death. Even those who do not die directly because of diabetes may find that their life expectancy has been reduced by several years. Additionally, the risk of heart disease is doubled and diabetes can cause some fearsome complications such as kidney failure, blindness, and lower-limb amputations. Diabetes is on the rise despite the billions of dollars that are spent every year on related healthcare and treatments.

Diabetes symptoms, for both type 1 and 2, include unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst and hunger, tiredness, blurred vision, increased urination, infections, and slow-healing bruises or cuts. Symptoms can be fairly subtle, so it is unsurprising that many people don't realize that they have diabetes for a long time. This is especially true for type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of the disease. This also means that many people may be first diagnosed when they present with the symptoms of a complication. People who are overweight or obese are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes. Losing weight through a healthy diet and sufficient exercise can significantly reduce this risk. Family history and ethnicity are types of risk factors that cannot be controlled but individuals can reduce their overall risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Risk Factors, Prevention, and Screening

Diabetes greatly increases the risk of stroke. Healthcare providers will learn what to do in the suspected stroke algorithm, but it is still important for everyone to recognize the signs and know the importance of acting immediately.

Disease Management and Treatment