Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both of these can have a major impact on your life. We’re here to help you better understand what diabetes is and how you can manage this disease.


Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly and can be subtle. And many people with the disease have no symptoms. That's why it's important to know your risk factors for the disease. It's also why your doctor may test you for it if you're at risk, even if you don't have symptoms.

The earlier type 2 diabetes is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of avoiding serious health problems.

What is it and who is at risk?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It usually starts when the body has trouble using insulin, a hormone that helps glucose (also called blood sugar) enter the body's cells. When glucose can't move into cells, it builds up in the bloodstream instead.

Over time, a high glucose level in the blood can damage the body, increasing the chances for complications such as heart, eye and kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Some people are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Higher- risk people include those who:

  • Are 45 years or older.
  • Are overweight or obese.
  • Are sedentary.
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Are African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes or of giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.

What are the symptoms?

Some signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Urinating a lot.
  • Feeling very thirsty, tired or hungry (even though you're eating).
  • Having blurred vision.
  • Having slow-healing cuts or bruises.
  • Having numbness, pain, or tingling in your feet or hands.

If you have symptoms like these, tell your doctor. He or she will most likely check your blood to see if you have diabetes.

Take it seriously

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will need to follow the advice of your doctor to keep the disease under control, which can help lower your risk of complications. You can do that by eating well, exercising regularly and taking medications, if needed.

Read more about Improving Your Diabetes Management With Regular Testing And A Healthy Lifestyle.