Overview of Diabetes


Just Diagnosed?

Use this Health Guide to help you understand and follow your diabetes treatment plan. Your efforts will pay off. If you ignore your diabetes, you can develop serious problems that are much harder to treat. By doing your part and working with your healthcare provider, you can lead an active life — as do many people who have diabetes.

When you have diabetes, you have to think about it every day. It's essential to your health that you make appropriate food and drink choices, that you take your medications appropriately, and that you check the amount of glucose in your blood. You can't afford to take a vacation from thinking about diabetes. However, you can learn to make thinking about your diabetes routine. Understanding this disease can help you see why you need to make careful food choices, exercise and take medicine. Sometimes simply having more knowledge makes taking action easier. Many people manage their diabetes effectively and live fulfilling lives.


What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious disease in which you have too much sugar, or glucose, in your blood. Diabetes results from a problem with insulin, the hormone that helps your body use glucose for energy. There are three common types:

Type 1 Diabetes: In people who have this type, the pancreas does not produce any insulin.


Type 2 Diabetes: In people who have this type, the pancreas can produce some insulin, but it may not produce enough or the body can't use it well.

Gestational Diabetes: The pregnant women who have this type produce plenty of insulin, but their bodies can't use it well.

People who have any type of diabetes need to carefully watch what they eat, get enough exercise and lose excess weight, if necessary. For people who have type 2, these changes may be enough for a while. Some may have to take oral medications, and some may have to take insulin shots. For pregnant women who have gestational diabetes, these changes may be enough, or they may also have to take insulin shots every day. People who have type 1 diabetes must take insulin shots every day.

Who Gets Diabetes?

Half of all people who have diabetes don't know they have it. Diabetes is a serious health problem. And, it's becoming more common.  How many people do you think have diabetes in the U.S.?

  • 2 million
  • 7 million
  • More than 15 million

If you said more than 15 million, you are right.

In the U.S., over 20 million people have diabetes. This number is equal to 7 percent of the population. Experts say about one-third of those who have diabetes have not yet been diagnosed or treated. To put that into perspective, in a room of 100 people, seven are likely to have diabetes. Of the seven, at least two of them don't know it yet. Over 1 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. By the year 2025, diabetes is expected to increase to around 9 percent of the U.S. population. Diabetes is a costly — and deadly — problem. In 2002, diabetes was a factor in more than 224,092 deaths in the U.S. It's the fifth leading cause of death in this country. Diabetes results in $132 billion in medical and other costs each year.