Many of us know someone who has diabetes. Diabetes occurs when a person has high blood sugar or blood glucose. This happens because the body does not produce enough insulin or cells do not respond to the insulin that is being produced. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems.

According to data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, there are a total of 25.8 million children and adults in the United States or 8.3% of the population with diabetes. There are 18.8 million people who are diagnosed and 7 million who are undiagnosed. A staggering 79 million people have prediabetes. Diabetes takes the lives of over 230,000 people each year.

Diabetes has many complications that can be life-threatening. These include:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Amputation

Prediabetes means glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to get diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there can already be long-term damage to the heart and circulatory system during prediabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults. It was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Those people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. Only about 5% of people with diabetes have type 1.With insulin therapy those with type 1 diabetes can live long and healthy lives.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. The body does not produce enough insulin or cells ignore the insulin. The first treatment plan for type 2 is typically done with meal planning, weight control and exercise. A registered dietitian can be a valuable asset during this first stage. If these treatments are not successful then a doctor may prescribe an oral medicine aimed at lowering the blood sugar level. In some cases, insulin injections may be necessary for someone with type 2 diabetes.

Insulin pumps are another option chosen by diabetics which eliminates the need for daily injections. The insulin is delivered during the day through a catheter. People with type 1 diabetes are using the pumps and those with type 2 are starting to as well.

You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by changing your diet, increase your physical activity and make sure you maintain a healthy weight. By making these changes, you can lower your risk of diabetes and live a long and healthy life.