Diabetes affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.
There are several types, but type 2 diabetes is by far the most common – according to the CDC, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases. Nearly 24 percent of the 30.3 million Americans who have diabetes are undiagnosed. Here's a quick look at the different types of diabetes.
Prediabetes occurs when a person has abnormally high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. Prediabetes is a fairly new term, and it's sometimes called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. A prediabetes diagnosis is both good and bad news. It's good news because at this early stage you can still reverse the condition and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It's bad news because prediabetes means you're on the road to full-blown type 2 diabetes and increasing your risk for heart disease and other conditions related to chronically high blood sugar. An estimated 57 million Americans have prediabetes, but many don't know it. Ask your doctor if you're at risk.
Type 1 diabetes
A person with type 1 diabetes has an immune system that attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. With little or no insulin, glucose builds up in the blood because it can't get inside the cells that need it. People with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections or doses of insulin from an insulin pump to stay alive. Type 1 diabetes is often called juvenile-onset diabetes, because it's most often diagnosed in children and young adults, or insulin-dependent diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
A person with type 2 diabetes either produces too little insulin to regulate blood sugar, or his or her body's cells become resistant to insulin and can't use it properly. Sometimes, both problems occur. Type 2 diabetes often starts with insulin resistance. The resulting increase in blood sugar confuses the pancreas into thinking more insulin is needed. Eventually, the pancreas' beta cells wear out from constant overproduction of insulin and can no longer make enough of it. Fortunately, you can manage type 2 diabetes with a healthy diet, regular exercise and weight control. Your doctor may prescribe medication as well.
In some women, diabetes develops for the first time during pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes and occurs in about seven percent of pregnant women. Most often, it's a temporary condition that goes away after pregnancy, but in some cases it can continue even after childbirth. Gestational diabetes increases a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes up to 60 percent in the future.