Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But, no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. And prediabetes is often the precursor of diabetes unless appropriate measures are taken to prevent progression. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered.
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated. Some people, especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, may sometimes not experience symptoms. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are:
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, though it often appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, can develop at any age, though it’s more common in people older than 40.
Depending on what type of diabetes you have, blood sugar monitoring, insulin, and oral medications may play a role in your treatment. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and participating in regular activity also are important factors in managing diabetes.
An important part of managing diabetes — as well as your overall health — is maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise plan:
Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump, frequent blood sugar checks, and carbohydrate counting. Treatment of type 2 diabetes primarily involves lifestyle changes, monitoring of your blood sugar, diabetes medications, insulin, or both.
Nobody wants to call the doctor for every little thing—but we know that treatments for diabetes-related health problems are more effective if you start early. So when should you see your doctor? Here are a few guidelines:1
Your doctor may be able to alleviate the symptoms you’re experiencing, and even help slow the progression of the problem through better blood sugar control.2
Still not sure? Just call. Your doctor wants to know everything that’s going on. If it’s no big deal, they’ll tell you. Pick up the phone and put your mind at ease.