Diabetes Information

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes affects the way your body uses carbohydrates (starches, fruit, and milk), protein and fat. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make insulin at all (Type 1 Diabetes) or when the body cannot properly use the insulin that the pancreas does create (Type 2 Diabetes). If either of these should occur, sugar (the body's main energy source) builds up in the blood, starving the cells for energy. In time, this can damage the eyes, kidney, nerves or heart, producing a life-threatening situation.

Warning Signs of Diabetes - Hyperglycemia

Some warning signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination, especially at night
  • Feeling very tired most of the day
  • Cuts or sores that are slow to heal
  • Blurry vision from time to time
  • A tingling feeling or no feeling in the hands and feet
  • Experiencing more infections than usual
  • Sexual problems
  • Acanthosis nigricans, a darkened pigmentation of the skin folds (i.e., neck, elbows, behind the knees or the groin areas)

Check your blood sugar frequently if you have any of the signs of high blood sugar noted above.

Warning Signs of Hypoglycemia with Diabetes

Once diagnosed and in treatment, you may have some or none of the warning signs of low blood sugar:

  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Headache
  • Shaky
  • Tired/sleepy
  • Grouchy/Irritable
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Poor concentration
  • Numbness or tingling around mouth or tongue

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes: Previously called IDDM or Juvenile Onset Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, similar to thyroid disease, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis and approximately 10 percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed with this type. Islet Cell Antibodies (ICA) destroy the beta cells of the pancreas. These ICAs are often present at the time of diagnosis.

There is typically a family predisposition to Type 1 diabetes due to specific tissue types that run in families.

Facts about Type 1 diabetes include:

  • Must administer insulin: inject, inhale or pump insulin to live
  • Pancreas produces little or no insulin
  • Usually develops in individuals before the age of 30
  • In children, symptoms may occur suddenly with frequent urination, thirst, extreme hunger and fatigue, rapid weight loss and very high blood sugar levels (onset of symptoms in adults is more gradual, often being mistaken for Type 2 diabetes)
  • If untreated, can progress to ketoacidosis and coma
  • Can occur throughout the life span

Type 2 Diabetes: Previously called NIDDM or Adult Onset Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot properly use the insulin that the pancreas creates and approximately 90% of people with diabetes are diagnosed with this type. In addition, the pancreas produces insulin in insufficient quantities for the demands of the body.

Facts about Type 2 diabetes include:

  • Happens more gradually
  • More frequently occurs after the age of 30 but increasing numbers of children and adolescents are being diagnosed
  • 80 to 90 percent of individuals who get Type 2 diabetes are overweight
  • Individual may have new or no symptoms

Treatment depends on the individual person and may include:

  • Dietary modification and/or weight management
  • Increased activity
  • Medication
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Blood pressure and lipid management
  • Combination of all these items

Major metabolic problems include:

  • Insulin resistance in the muscle, liver or fat cells
  • Increased glucose production in the liver
  • Impaired insulin secretion from the pancreas

Other metabolic derangements include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High lipid levels
  • Obesity
  • High insulin levels

Risk Factors:

  • Overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Hispanic, African-American or Native American
  • 10-16 years of age or over 30 years of age
  • Prior history of large babies or diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • High blood pressure
  • HDL cholesterol less than 35 mg/dl and/or triglycerides greater than 250 mg/dl

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is the type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. It affects seven percent of all pregnancies in the United States and 11 percent in San Antonio where there is a high incidence of obesity and diabetes among the Hispanic population. This carbohydrate intolerance of variable severity is usually detected between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, and tends to resolve once the baby is born. It is extremely important to control elevated blood sugars in both types of diabetes to reduce complications in the mother and the baby.

Risk factors associated with gestational diabetes include:

  • African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Obesity