What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases that cause high levels of blood glucose (blood sugar) because of defects in the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy.
Diabetes generally falls into two main categories: type 1, a condition that most often affects children or adolescents and develops when the body can no longer make insulin, and type 2, the most common form of diabetes that primarily affects adults.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no known cure at this time.
According to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011* from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes (types 1 and 2) affects 8.3% of Americans of all ages, and 11.3% of adults ages 20 and older. Racial and ethnic minorities continue to experience higher rates of diabetes. For adults, diabetes rates were 16.1% for American Indians/Alaska natives, 12.6% for blacks, 11.8% for Hispanics, and 8.4% for Asian-Americans. The rate for non-Hispanic white adults was 7.1%.
The fact sheet also reported that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States. It is also the major cause for heart disease and strokes, and the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
How We Can Help
Diabetes self-management education is key to improving health outcomes and quality of life. People with diabetes can reduce their risk for complications if they are educated about their disease, learn and practice the skills necessary to better control their blood glucose levels, and receive regular checkups from their health care team.
Knowledge is power. Learn what you can about diabetes and use what you learn to take control of your diabetes, your health, and your life.
*The fact sheet is available at www.cdc.gov/diabetes. Information on diabetes prevention and control from the National Diabetes Education Program — a joint effort of CDC and NIH — is available at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org.