Understanding types

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a manageable, chronic disease affecting 25.8 million people in the U.S.

To understand the condition, it is important to understand blood sugar. The body manages blood sugar levels by releasing insulin, a hormone that helps convert the food we eat into energy, in the form of glucose. Blood sugar levels can rise if the body is not making enough insulin or fails to use the hormone properly.

A diagnosis of diabetes happens when:

  • Fasting blood sugar is 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or greater
  • Random blood sugar is 200 mg/dl or greater, with symptoms
  • Two-hour glucose tolerance test is 200 mg/dl or greater
  • Pre-diabetes fasting blood sugar is between 100-125 mg/dl

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body makes little or no insulin. This type usually occurs in children and young adults and has a sudden onset. Careful management of type 1 diabetes can reduce the risk of serious, even life-threatening, complications.

Type 2 diabetes is when the body doesn’t use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes is more common in adults over 40, and it comes on slowly. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you can manage the condition by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight.

To live a healthy lifestyle with diabetes, it’s important to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range, as set by your health care provider. Generally, that range will be between 70 and 130 mg/dl before meals and less than 180 one to two hours after a meal. Treatments for diabetes include education, healthy eating, blood glucose monitoring, physical activity, oral medicine and/or insulin.

Recommended reading:
Living well with diabetes: You can do it!
Health Risk: Diabetes