Maria, a 25-year-old with type 1 diabetes, wanted children. Maria's doctor told her that before she got pregnant, her blood glucose (sugar) should be close to normal and her kidneys, eyes, and blood pressure should be checked. Maria began to watch her diabetes very closely. She checked her blood glucose four times a day, ate healthy meals, and began to walk a lot.
Once Maria became pregnant, she spent a lot of time taking care of her diabetes. Her hard work paid off. Nine months later, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Rose is 55-years-old and teaches at a junior high school on an American Indian reservation in New Mexico. Rose has had type 2 diabetes for almost 10 years. When she first found out she had diabetes, she weighed too much and didn't get much exercise. After talking it over with her doctor, Rose began an exercise program. She lost weight, and her blood glucose began to come down. She felt better too. Now Rose teaches an exercise class in her spare time.
Diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because the body uses glucose for energy; it's the fuel that keeps you going. But too much glucose in the blood is not good for your health.
Your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose. Your blood takes the glucose to the cells throughout your body. The glucose needs insulin to get into the body's cells. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ near the stomach. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood. Insulin helps the glucose from food get into body cells. If your body does not make enough insulin or the insulin does not work right, the glucose can't get into the cells, so it stays in the blood. This makes your blood glucose level high, causing you to have diabetes.
If not controlled, diabetes can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations (having a toe or foot removed, for example), and nerve damage. In women, diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy and make it more likely that your baby will be born with birth defects.
Pre-diabetes means your blood glucose is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes range. It also means you are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There is good news though: You can reduce the risk of getting diabetes and even return to normal blood glucose levels with modest weight loss and moderate physical activity. If you are told you have pre-diabetes, have your blood glucose checked again in 1 to 2 years.
The three main types of diabetes are:
About 24 million Americans have diabetes, about half of whom are women. As many as one quarter do not know they have diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs at about the same rate in men and women, but it is more common in Caucasians than in other ethnic groups.
Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, mainly in people who are overweight. It is more common in African Americans, Hispanic Americans/Latinos, and American Indians.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes —The exact causes of both types of diabetes are still not known. For both types, genetic factors make it possible for diabetes to develop. But something in the person’s environment is also needed to trigger the onset of diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, those environmental triggers are unknown. With type 2 diabetes, the exact cause is also unknown, but it is clear that excess weight helps trigger the disease. Most people who get type 2 diabetes are overweight.
Gestational diabetes — Changing hormones and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy, but these changes make it hard for your body to keep up with its need for insulin. When that happens, your body doesn't get the energy it needs from the foods you eat.
The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are unknown. Things that can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes include:
If you're at least 45 years old, you should get tested for diabetes, and then you should be tested again every 3 years. If you're 45 or older and overweight you may want to get tested more often. Ask your doctor for a fasting blood glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test. Your doctor will tell you if you have normal blood glucose (blood sugar), pre-diabetes, or diabetes.
If you have one or more of these signs, see your doctor.
Many people with diabetes live healthy and full lives. By following your doctor's instructions and eating right, you can too. Here are the things you'll need to do to keep your diabetes in check:
Talk to your doctor about other things you can do to take good care of yourself. Taking care of your diabetes can help prevent serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth, and blood vessels.
Taking care of yourself when you have gestational diabetes is very much like taking care of yourself when you have other types of diabetes. But it can be a little scary when you're pregnant and you also have a new condition to take care of. Don't worry. Many women who've had gestational diabetes have gone on to have healthy babies. Here are the things you'll need to do:
The following chart shows blood glucose targets for most women with gestational diabetes. Talk with your health care team about whether these targets are right for you.
|On awakening||not above 95 mg/dL|
|1 hour after a meal||not above 140 mg/dL|
|2 hours after a meal||not above 120 mg/dL|
There is no cure for diabetes at this time, but there is a great deal of research going on in hopes of finding cures for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Many different approaches to curing diabetes are being studied, and researchers are making progress.
Yes. The best way to prevent diabetes is to make some lifestyle changes:
*Reprinted from womenshealth.gov.