Diabetes is a condition in which, due to defects in insulin production or insulin utilization, the body is unable to turn the glucose from food into energy, thereby causing high levels of glucose (sugar) to build up in the bloodstream.

It can often go undiagnosed because many of its early symptoms seem so harmless. However, the consequences of untreated diabetes can be grave.

The stages of diabetes:

Prediabetes

People who are at an increased risk to develop type 2 diabetes. With adjustments in diet and exercise, and in some cases medication, it is still possible at this stage to delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

This occurs when women without a history of diabetes develop high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. If blood glucose levels remain too high during pregnancy, it can affect both mother and baby. In most cases, high blood glucose levels can be treated with only diet modification and a physician-approved exercise program. Occasionally, medications, including insulin, may need to be added to the treatment plan. Most women with gestational diabetes will need to check their blood glucose levels at home regularly. Blood glucose levels generally return to normal after delivery, although there is an increased risk for these women of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Type 2 Diabetes

The most common type of diabetes. It develops as a result of a metabolic disorder, in which the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes effectively.

Generally developed later in life, initially type 2 may be managed through dietary modification and exercise, although as the condition progresses, medication or insulin may be required. Age, inactivity, weight issues and a family history of diabetes all may be risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

It affects about 5% to 10% of the population.

Genetic in origin, it is almost always diagnosed at an early age – either in children or young adults – but can be diagnosed at any age. With this type of diabetes, the body produces no insulin, so people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin by injection or through the use of an insulin pump.

Life with diabetes can be challenging. However, with knowledge lighting the way, you can live a productive and happy life while managing your diabetes.

Check back to FitnessHacksForLife for more information about living with diabetes.