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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Diabetes

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What is Diabetes?

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.

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Types of Diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults, but it's a lifelong condition. If you have this type of diabetes, your body does not make insulin, so you must take insulin every day. Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making healthy food choices, getting regular physical activity, taking aspirin daily (for many people), and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes — about 9 out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. You can get type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood.  Type 2 diabetes was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is nearing epidemic proportions, due to an increased number of older Americans, and a greater prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyles. In type 2 diabetes, your body makes insulin, but the insulin can't do its job, so glucose is not getting into the cells. Treatment includes taking medicine, making healthy food choices, getting regular physical activity, taking aspirin daily (for many people), and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body generally produces less and less insulin over time. This means that you may need to increase your medications or start using insulin in order to keep your diabetes in good control.
  • Gestational (jess-TAY-shun-ul) diabetes occurs during pregnancy. This type of diabetes occurs in about 1 in 20 pregnancies. During pregnancy your body makes hormones that keep insulin from doing its job. To make up for this, your body makes extra insulin. But in some women this extra insulin is not enough, so they get gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away when the pregnancy is over. Women who have had gestational diabetes are very likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

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Warning Signs of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Irritability 
Type 2 Diabetes:
  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
  • Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.

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Diabetes Risk Factors

  • 45 years of age or older
  • Overweight
  • Have a parent with diabetes
  • Have a sister or brother with diabetes
  • Family background is African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Developed diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • Physically active less than three times a week

It is important to find out early if you have type 2 diabetes, because early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

If you have two or more of the risk factors above, you should consider getting a blood test from a health care provider for diabetes. 

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What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.  Prediabetes is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  If you have prediabetes, you are 5 to15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people with normal blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. The vast majority of people with prediabetes do not know they have the condition.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 of every 3 U.S. adults has prediabetes and half of all Americans aged 65 years and older have prediabetes.

If you have any of the following risk factors, you are more likely to develop prediabetes:

  • 45 years of age or older.
  • Overweight.
  • Have a parent, sister or brother with diabetes.
  • Family background is African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
  • Developed diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • Physically active less than three times a week.

It is important to find out early if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, because early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

If you have two or more of the risk factors above, you should consider getting a blood test from a health care provider for prediabetes and diabetes. 

If your test results indicate you have prediabetes you should enroll in an evidence-based lifestyle program to lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.  Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing 5% to 7% of their weight—that is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.  Weight loss should be achieved by making lasting lifestyle changes to improve nutrition and increase physical activity to 150 minutes each week.

Lifestyle change programs offered through the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which is led by CDC, can help participants adopt the healthy habits needed to prevent type 2 diabetes.  Trained lifestyle coaches lead classes to help participants improve their food choices, increase physical activity, and learn coping skills to maintain weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes. 

The national registry of recognized diabetes prevention programs lists contact information for programs that offer type 2 diabetes prevention programs in Florida.  This registry can be used by health care providers to refer patients to a local program.  This registry can also help people who want to make a lifestyle change to prevent type 2 diabetes locate an organization offering the classes. www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/recognition/states/Florida.htm

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