What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot properly use or store the energy found in food –  When we eat carbohydrates (carbs) such as breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits and some vegetables, they are turned into sugar (glucose) and are carried by our bloodstream to be used as energy for our cells. The hormone insulin is that “key” that helps move the glucose from the blood into the cells where it can be either used for energy or stored as fat for later use.

When the body cannot properly or efficiently get the glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells, the level of sugar in the blood rises. This can happen because the body does not make enough insulin or the cells do not properly respond to insulin (often called insulin resistance). When this happens the body experiences a double whammy – glucose (sugar) levels in the blood rise AND the cells don’t receive the energy they need to function properly. Learn more

Screening for diabetes can be done through a blood test to measure how much glucose (sugar) is in the blood. There are a number of simple blood tests to measure blood glucose/sugar levels, and they are listed further below. The most common diabetes screening test is an A1c test. An A1c blood sugar reading below 5.7 is considered normal, 5.7 to 6.4 is considered prediabetic, and above 6.5 is diabetic.

There are actually a few different types of diabetes, Type l, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Click here to learn more

Why is it So Important to Know if You are Diabetic?

High blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) from undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, heart and nervous system – putting you at increased risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, kidney disease, loss of vision and dementia.

Who is at greater risk of developing diabetes?

People who have a family history of type 2 diabetes.

People who identify as African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander.

Those who were low birth weight babies.

Women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant, or people who were born to a mother who had gestational diabetes.

People who are overweight, inactive, or have poor eating habits.

What is Pre-diabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. A person with prediabetes however is at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. More than 88 million US adults—1 in 3 people —have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it.

How to determine if you have Diabetes or Pre-diabetes?

Since pre-diabetes often doesn’t show obvious symptoms, the best way to find out if you have pre-diabetes is to visit your medical provider and take one of the tests listed below.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that diabetes screening for most adults start at age 45, but in Harford County we have seen a rise in pre-diabetes in people in their 20’s and 30’s. If you are overweight, inactive, have a family history of diabetes, or are in any of the high risk categories listed above, it is a good idea to discuss testing with your medical practitioner.


Want to prevent or delay diabetes? We can help!

For here for information on free Diabetes Prevention and Diabetes Self Management Classes, or call Healthlink at 443.515.0044.