More than 9 percent of Americans live with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite its prevalence, diabetes is frequently misunderstood. People often misinterpret or miss signs and symptoms, delaying diagnosis. Adventist HealthCare diabetes educator Michele McBride clarifies important facts about this disease.


The Disease

Glucose Meter GraphicDiabetes is a disease in which the levels of blood glucose, also called blood sugar, are higher than normal.

The Types

There are two major types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 is an autoimmune response that causes a person’s body to produce no insulin. Insulin injections are necessary for the rest of the person’s life. In Type 2 diabetes, the person’s body still makes insulin. However, the amount is not enough or the body is insulin-resistant. This results in too much sugar remaining in the blood.

The common perception is that Type 1 diabetes affects children and adolescents and Type 2 affects adults, but it is increasingly recognized that both conditions cross over age groups.

The Cause

Fresh Produce GraphicPeople develop Type 2 diabetes for many reasons. Family history of the disease, environmental factors, ethnicity and age can all play a role. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the disease.

The Treatment

Treatment for diabetes varies depending on the type. People with Type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent or require regular insulin injections. Type 2 can often be managed with diet and exercise, oral medications, non-insulin injectable medication or insulin.

Ongoing diabetes education is crucial to anyone managing the disease. Patients can benefit from new strategies and information as they age. The comprehensive diabetes program at Adventist HealthCare teaches individuals how to live their best life with diabetes.

Know the Signs

Symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same and are generally vague with a gradual onset. These symptoms are often ignored until a person is sick and requires medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive urination
  • Extreme thirst and/or hunger, even when eating or drinking
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Experiencing symptoms of diabetes or have risk factors? Calculate your risk of developing the disease.