What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious, common, and costly disease, and is currently the 7th leading cause of death nationwide and in Hawaii. It is characterized by high levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar. Symptoms include frequent urination, frequent thirst and hunger, fatigue, blurry vision, injuries that are slow to heal, and tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands and/or feet.  People with diabetes are at greater risk of developing health complications such as cardiovascular disease, eye disease, and kidney disease. Proper management is critical to preventing complications.  There are three main types of diabetes:

TYPE 1 DIABETES

Type 1 diabetes, formerly called insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes, results from the failure of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas to produce insulin.  It occurs most frequently in children and young adults.  Its onset is sudden and diagnosis is rapid after the start of symptoms. Only about 5% to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.  There are no known risk factors for type 1 diabetes, however one can have a genetic marker for the disease.

TYPE 2 DIABETES

Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, is the most prevalent form of the disease, occurring in about 90% to 95% of people with diabetes.  In this form of diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or it cannot use it properly.  A person with type 2 diabetes can experience symptoms very gradually and often go unnoticed.  Between 2000 and 2010, the prevalence of self-reported type 2 diabetes in Hawaii increased by 60%. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having low levels of physical activity, and poor diet.

PREDIABETES

Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. If left untreated, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes. In Hawaii, about 442,000 adults have prediabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it! Fortunately, prediabetes can be reversed. If you have prediabetes, there are things that you can do today to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Take the Diabetes Risk Test and visit PreventDiabetesHawaii.com for more information and helpful resources.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES

Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy, often in women with no prior history of the disease.  The hormonal changes and weight gain associated with pregnancy causes one’s cells to use insulin less effectively, also referred to as insulin resistance. It is estimated that prevalence of gestational diabetes could be as high as 9 percent.  Risks factors include being overweight, previous gestational diabetes diagnoses, giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth, having a family history of type 2 diabetes, having prediabetes, and being of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.

For more detailed information about type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association website.