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Frequently Asked Questions



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Frequently Asked Questions about Diabetes

Get answers to frequently asked questions about diabetes:

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot make enough insulin or use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone the body makes to help us use the food we eat for energy. This energy comes from blood glucose, also called blood sugar. Diabetes causes an increase in blood glucose, because glucose cannot move from the blood into the cells for energy.

Are there different types of diabetes?

Yes, there are several types of diabetes.

  • With Type 1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile diabetes, the body makes no insulin. About 1 in 10 people with diabetes have type 1. This type of diabetes is thought to be caused by the body destroying the cells that make insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin.
  • Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. This diabetes generally goes away after the pregnancy, but these women are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes is most common. About 90% of people with diabetes have type 2.
  • There are also some uncommon forms of diabetes.

What are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes?

  • Aging or being older than 45 years
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise
  • History of pre-diabetes

How can I decrease my chances of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

There are ways to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • If you are overweight, losing just 10-15 pounds can reduce the risk.
  • Becoming active or more active by doing some moderate exercise each day can reduce the risk.
  • Making healthy food choices, including smaller portions and fewer calories, can reduce the risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination (more than usual)
  • Increased appetite
  • Lack of energy or feeling more tired than usual
  • Change in weight
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections and sores which are slow to heal.

What causes the blood sugar to go up in someone who has diabetes?

  • Not taking diabetes medicines as prescribed.
  • Not enough activity or exercise
  • Eating more carbohydrates than usual
  • Stress
  • Illness, infection, or pain
  • Progression of diabetes which may mean the need for a change or addition of medicine.

What can people do to manage diabetes?

  • Learn to choose moderate portions of healthy foods.
  • Learn which food combinations, especially carbohydrates, raise your blood glucose.
  • Safely become more active.
  • Learn how to properly check your blood glucose (sugar)
  • Learn what your blood glucose numbers mean and aim for your target numbers.
  • Take medicines as prescribed for diabetes.
  • Reduce your stress level in a way that is best for you
  • Take a class to learn how to stay healthy with diabetes.

What are the symptoms of low blood glucose (sugar)?

Low blood sugar occurs when your blood glucose levels are below 70mg/dl.

Symptoms include:

  • Cold sweat
  • Feeling shaky
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Feeling hungry
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritable
  • Dizzy
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment includes drinking or eating a simple sugar to quickly raise blood glucose levels. Untreated low blood glucose can continue to drop and lead to passing out.
Get immediate medical attention if you are not able to correct a very low blood glucose.

What is ketoacidosis?

People who have Type 1 diabetes are more at risk for ketoacidosis than people with Type 2 diabetes. Ketoacidosis (or DKA) is a condition that occurs when your body is unable to use glucose as energy due to a lack of insulin. Blood glucose (sugar) becomes very high. The body then must use fat as energy. Ketones, an acid byproduct of this fat burning, can build up in the blood. This can become a life-threatening problem.

What are the symptoms of ketoacidosis, in addition to high blood glucose (sugar)?

The usual symptoms of high blood glucose, along with:

  • Moderate to large amounts of ketones in your urine
  • Nausea and vomiting, and stomach pains or cramping
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • Difficulty breathing or fast breathing
  • Confusion and coma

Call your doctor or 911 if you are experiencing one or more of the signs of ketoacidosis.

If you would like more information about these or any other diabetes questions, please call the diabetes educators of the Center for Diabetes Education at (863) 293-1121, ext. 3259 or ext. 3478.


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