Diabetes is a disease caused by a deficiency of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.
There are two types of diabetes with important differences. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5% to 10% of all known cases of diabetes, and Type 2 accounts for about 90 – 95%. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin to live; people with type 2 diabetes may or may not require insulin. Most people who develop type 1 diabetes do so when they are children or teenagers. People who develop type 2 diabetes normally do so after age 40.
Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, extreme hunger, excessive urination, unexplained weight loss, sudden vision change, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, feeling tired most of the time, very dry skin, sores that heal slowly and developing more infections than usual.
Diabetes treatment includes eating to control blood sugar, getting regular physical activity, taking diabetes medicines and/or insulin and monitoring blood sugar levels.
By keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range, people with diabetes lower their risk of long-term complications of diabetes, such as eye disease, kidney disease and nerve damage.
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Living well with diabetes
Joyce Schutte was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. For six years, she successfully managed her health by going to classes, taking her medications, eating smaller portions and choosing to be physically active. Everything changed in 2013 when her daughter, Eileen, found out she had cancer.