A startling fact is that one in three people will develop diabetes in their lifetime — but many of them will not know they have it. Do you know if you’re at risk? Here’s what you need to know about diabetes, including what the three different types are, common symptoms, who’s most likely to be diagnosed, and how you can lower your risk.
What are the types of diabetes?
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1: This occurs when your pancreas can’t make insulin, which is a hormone that helps change your blood sugar into energy. It’s less common, representing only 5% of people who have diabetes. This type is also referred to as “insulin-dependent” diabetes.
Type 2: This is caused by your body not efficiently using insulin, which causes your body to have trouble keeping your blood sugar at normal levels. It’s the most common type as it affects 9 out of 10 people who have diabetes. This type is also referred to as “noninsulin-dependent” diabetes.
Gestational: This type of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy. Similar to the other types, gestational diabetes affects how your body regulates your blood sugar levels, which can impact your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
What are some symptoms of diabetes?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have similar symptoms. Here are some of the most common:
- Blurred vision. The changing amount of fluid in your body may impact the lenses of your eyes, which makes it hard to focus.
- Cuts and bruises that heal slowly. Diabetes affects the nerves and blood circulation, making it difficult for your skin to repair.
- Hunger and fatigue. When you have diabetes, your body has trouble converting the food you eat into energy.
- Frequent urination and increased thirst. The average person urinates four to seven times in a day, but with diabetes, you may need to go more often. This happens because diabetes increases your blood sugar levels, making it more difficult for your kidneys to function, causing more urine — and in turn — making you more thirsty.
Typically, there are no symptoms of gestational diabetes. Doctors usually test women who are pregnant to see if they have gestational diabetes.
What makes me more at risk for diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes tends to affect people who:
- Are younger than 18 years of age, (although it can occur at any age)
- Have a history of family members with type 1 diabetes
For type 2 diabetes, you may be more at risk if you are or have:
- 45 years or older
- Pre-diabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet diabetes)
- A history of gestational diabetes
- Your body stores fat mostly in your abdomen
- An immediate family member with type 2 diabetes
- Not physically active
To see if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has a great survey you can take to rate your at-risk level. To take the survey, go here: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test
For gestational diabetes, you may be more at risk if you are or have:
- Over the age of 25
- Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- History of high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
How can I lower my risk of type 2 diabetes?
You can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy diet with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, and less sugar. Being physically active also lowers your risk. Exercise can help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels.
When should I see a doctor?
It’s always a good idea to talk with a doctor about your family history and lifestyle habits. The doctor will be able to provide guidance in preventing diabetes or, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, they will be able to recommend ways to self-manage it as well as provide education and support tools.
If you have diabetes, Doctor On Demand by Included Health can help you manage your “diabetes ABCs” — the numbers that indicate to you if your glucose and insulin levels are in a healthy range. These include your A1C test, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol.
Our doctors are also able to order lab tests that may help diagnose diabetes or diabetes-related conditions.
There’s so much to know about diabetes, but the above is the general overview of all three types. If you need to know more, or think you may have diabetes, reach out to an Included Health care coordinator or start a telehealth visit today.
About the author
Dr. Kristin Dean
Dr. Kristin Dean is a Family Practice Physician who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Nutritional Sciences. She continued her loyalty to the ‘Gator Nation’ and completed her medical school education at the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2010. Dr. Dean then moved to Los Angeles to complete her training in Family Medicine at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Dean considers healthcare to be a team approach, with the patient being the captain of the healthcare team. Although she considers a healthy lifestyle to be the starting point for all healthcare plans, she uses medicine, empathy and education to continue to improve her patient’s health.