The Basics: Overview
You can do a lot to prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes (“dy-ah-BEE-teez”), including:
- Watching your weight
- Eating healthy
- Staying active
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. If it’s not controlled, diabetes can cause serious health problems.
The good news is that the small steps you take to prevent diabetes can lead to big rewards.
To get started, make your game plan to prevent type 2 diabetes [PDF - 7 MB].
The Basics: Definition
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease. People with diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood.
Your body depends on glucose for energy. When you eat, the food turns into glucose. Your blood carries the glucose to other parts of your body.
When you have diabetes, your body has trouble turning glucose into energy. Instead of being used by your body, the glucose builds up in your blood. The rest of your body is starved of energy.
Diabetes can't be cured, but it can be controlled. If it’s not controlled, diabetes can lead to:
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
What is type 2 diabetes?
There is more than one type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. People who are overweight are more likely to get type 2 diabetes.
The Basics: Am I at Risk?
Am I at risk for diabetes?
You may be at risk for type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are age 40 or older
- Are overweight
- Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
- Are African American, Hispanic or Latino American, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- Have had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or have had a baby with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
- Have high blood pressure or cholesterol
- Exercise less than 3 times a week
- Have pre-diabetes
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes means the amount of glucose in your blood is higher than normal. If you have pre-diabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, like heart disease and stroke. Find out more about pre-diabetes.
The Basics: Signs
What are the signs of diabetes?
Many people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. Some signs of diabetes include:
- Being very thirsty or very hungry
- Feeling tired for no reason
- Urinating (going to the bathroom) more than usual
- Losing weight for no reason
- Having cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- Having trouble seeing (blurry vision)
- Losing feeling or having tingling in your hands or feet
Not everyone who has diabetes has these signs. If you have any of these signs or think you may be at risk, talk with your doctor about getting tested for diabetes.