Understanding Diabetes -- the Basics
Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, the body continues to produce insulin, although insulin production by the body may significantly decrease over time. The pancreas produces either not enough insulin, or the body is unable to recognize insulin and use it properly. When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose can't get into the body's cells to be used as energy.This glucose then builds up in the blood.
Over 25 million American have diabetes, and the great majority of them has type 2 diabetes. While most of these cases can be prevented, it remains for adults the leading cause of diabetes-related complications such as blindness, non-traumatic amputations, and chronic kidney failure. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in people over age 40 who are overweight, but it can occur in people who are not overweight. In the past, it was referred to as "adult-onset diabetes," but now it has started to appear more often in children because of the rise in obesity in young people.
Some people can manage their type 2 diabetes by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others may also need to take a diabetes pill that helps their body use insulin better, and/or take insulin injections.
Often, doctors are able to detect the likelihood of type 2 diabetes before the condition actually occurs. Commonly referred to as pre-diabetes, this condition occurs when a person's blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Type 2 Diabetes.
Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect insulin's ability to work properly. The condition, called gestational diabetes, occurs in about 4% of all pregnancies.
Pregnant women who have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes are those who are over 25 years old, are above their normal body weight before pregnancy, have a family history of diabetes, or are Hispanic, black, Native American, or Asian.
Screening for gestational diabetes is performed during pregnancy. Left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of complications to both the mother and her unborn child.
Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal within six weeks of childbirth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
For more detail, see WebMD's article Gestational Diabetes.