What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which sugars build up in your blood beyond a normal level.
A healthy body uses the hormone insulin to move sugars (“glucose”) into your cells. If you have diabetes, your body either cannot produce enough insulin or is resistant to its own insulin, so excess sugars can’t move into your cells and, instead, stay in your blood. When glucose in the bloodstream can’t enter into your cells, it leads to health problems.
There is a growing public health focus on type 2 diabetes, a preventable condition that has become increasingly common among Asian populations and in young adults and adolescents. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include overweight and obesity, excess weight around the waist, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, genetic disposition, and family history. You can develop type 2 diabetes even if you are not overweight.
Diabetes can be diagnosed through a series of tests from your doctor, and it often goes undiagnosed when people do not visit their doctors. The earlier you assess your own diabetes risk, the more likely you can prevent possible damage to your body. If you experience type 2 diabetes symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, fatigue, very dry skin, or wounds that are slow to heal, you should contact your doctor.1
Once you develop diabetes, it is almost never reversible – meaning you will have it for the rest of your life – but you can make healthy choices to prevent complications such as heart disease, eye problems, foot problems, nerve damage, infections, sexual dysfunction, and kidney damage.
Keeping your weight under control, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking are important steps you can take to help prevent type 2 diabetes or, if you already have the disease, to reduce your risk of developing complications. Diabetes prevention studies have shown that changes in lifestyle, including increased physical activity, better nutrition, and body weight management, can substantially decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.2