Diabetes Plan


What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or when the pancreas produces insulin but it is resisted by the body. Insulin is the hormone responsible for helping tissues use glucose (sugar), the body's energy source. Without an adequate supply of insulin, a person with diabetes is unable to keep glucose levels in balance.

Poor glucose control can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), a condition that, if poorly managed, can result in coma or death. It can also lead to hyperglycemia, a condition associated with higher-than-normal blood glucose. Hyperglycemia can contribute to long-term complications, including blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Diabetes is also a major factor in both cardiovascular disease and impotence.

Here are the steps that happen during normal metabolism:
  1. During and just after a meal, the body digests food into its “basic building blocks.” This means the body breaks down carbohydrates (starches) into sugar. Glucose is the primary form of sugar the body needs for energy.
  2. After the meal, glucose is absorbed into the blood.
  3. The rise in blood glucose tells the pancreas to make insulin, which goes out into the bloodstream. About 10 minutes after a meal, insulin is at its highest level.
  4. Insulin helps the glucose enter the body's cells. The glucose either is used right away for energy or stored in the liver and muscles for future use.
  5. About two to four hours after eating a meal, the body returns to low levels of blood glucose, and the body starts using stored glucose as source of energy.

Here is what happens if a person has diabetes:
  1. The pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin or the body is resistant to the action of insulin.
  2. Without enough insulin to move sugar from the bloodstream and into the cells, the blood glucose level rises too high.
  3. With increasing blood glucose concentration, extra glucose passes into the urine and out of the body before the body gets the energy it needs every day. 4. The body will react to a sugar imbalance and, eventually, the person may be at risk for major health problems. This is why it is important to get tested for diabetes and begin treatment as soon as possible.
The two most common forms of diabetes are type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin. Most often thought of as a disease that strikes in childhood, Type 1 occurs when the body attacks and destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells. A person with the condition must depend on the daily delivery of insulin from an insulin pump or injections to survive. Approximately one million Americans, or about 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s inability to properly use, or produce enough, insulin. An estimated 19 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of the diabetes cases in the United States. Obesity and weight gain are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. It is often controlled by diet, exercise and oral medications. It can also be managed with insulin.

People with type 2 diabetes often can control the condition with a healthy lifestyle. Many may need medications, however. These medications can either improve insulin secretion by the pancreas or decrease insulin resistance. Some individuals may also need to take insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disorder because the ability of the pancreas to make insulin slowly gets worse over time. This is why lifestyle changes may be sufficient shortly after the onset of diabetes but as time goes on, more and more medications and even insulin may be required to keep the blood sugar under control.

If the disease is in the early stage, an individual may not have symptoms. If you suspect you may have diabetes, you should see a doctor. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, blurred vision, excessive thirst, and excessive urination.


You may be at high risk of developing diabetes if you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or if you have a history of diabetes during pregnancy. If so, you should get tested for this condition. Other groups more likely to have diabetes are individuals over 45 years of age and non-Caucasians. Diabetes should not be ignored.

Both types of diabetes can cause dangerous complications if it is not controlled. Specifically, if you have diabetes, you can go blind. You can also develop heart disease, and kidney failure. You are at risk of losing a limb one day, because of a decrease in circulation. In addition, you may experience life-threatening reactions to extremely low or high blood sugar levels.

Because of the possible serious consequences of diabetes, people with diabetes must manage their treatment carefully. Endocrinologists and internal medicine physicians who specialize in diabetes are trained to help patients manage this condition. People with diabetes may also need to see eye doctors (ophthalmologists), foot doctors (podiatrists), dietitians, and diabetes educators to round out their care. Only with proper attention can people with diabetes live the healthiest life possible.*


Pre-diabetes is a new classification recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Pre-diabetes is a condition where individuals have higher than normal glucose levels.

Diabetes Facts

  • The International Diabetes Federation estimates that nearly 200 million people have diabetes worldwide. The World Health Organization expects this number to reach 366 million by the year 2030.
  • In the United States, more than 20 million people are estimated to have diabetes. An additional 41 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes.
  • The average life expectancy for a diabetes patient is up to 15 years less than that of the general population.
  • Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people without diabetes of similar age.
  • Diabetes is America’s healthcare system most costly chronic condition, with more than $132 billion spent annually on diabetes and its complications.
  • One of every 10 healthcare dollars goes to treat diabetes and its complications, and one of every four Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes-related healthcare.

*Courtesy of The Hormone Foundation
For more information go to:  http://www.hormone.org/Diabetes/index.cfm

Related Sites

General Diabetes Information

American Diabetes Association
National Diabetes Education Program
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation
Information on Erectile Dysfunction
Journey For Control - Help control your diabetes

To Find a Diabetes Educator

American Association of Diabetes Educators

Diet and Weight Loss Information

American Dietetic Association
"Weight Loss and Exercise" from the American Diabetes Association

Insulin Pumps

Medtronic MiniMed Inc.


One Touch

Children with Diabetes

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
JDRF - Kids Online
American Diabetes Association

Travel Resources

"When You Travel" from the American Diabetes Association
Transportation Security Administration

Patients on Insulin


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