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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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Diabetes

Click to Play Video: Pertussis PSA Ronnie Dixon - A Personal Diabetes Story
Duration: 1:06

What is diabetes?

Diabetes means your blood sugar is too high. Your blood always has some sugar in it because your body needs sugar for energy to keep you going. But, too much sugar in the blood is not good for your health.

 

What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but, not high enough for diabetes.

  • People with pre-diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • You can reduce the risk of getting diabetes and perhaps even return blood sugar levels to normal with a small amount of weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity.

What is type 2 diabetes?

People develop type 2 diabetes because the cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly. Eventually, the body cannot make enough insulin. This leads to high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can lead to serious problems with your eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves.

Type 2 diabetes is most common in American Indian and Alaska Native people. This type of diabetes can occur at any age, even in children.

What are the signs of type 2 diabetes?

Signs of type 2 diabetes can be severe, very mild or none at all, depending on how high blood sugars have become. Look for these signs:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired most of the time)
  • Increased urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision

A blood test to check your blood sugar will show if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

What factors increase my risk for getting pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes?

  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Having had the kind of diabetes which can happen during pregnancy
  • Being overweight

Can type 2 diabetes be managed?

Yes. Taking care of your diabetes every day will help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range and help prevent health problems that diabetes can cause over the years.

Where can I get help with pre-diabetes and diabetes?

  • Your health care team (doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, dietitian, psychologist, fitness coach, social worker) can help.
    They can help you create a physical activity and healthy eating plan that will work for you. They can also inform you of the medication used to treat diabetes.
  • Get help from others. Talk with your family and friends and ask for support.

Visit IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention Ideas and Inspirations to learn more and see more success stories.