Diabetic woman checks insulin

General Diabetes Information

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​At SSM Health, we understand that diabetes has a direct effect on the quality of your life. Our team of physicians, nurses, dietitians and other therapists offer the latest treatment and technology to help patients manage this disease.

Diabetes happens when the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to serious complications.

What are the types of diabetes?

  • Type 1: When the body's immune system destroys the pancreatic beta cells, they become diabetic. Type 1 risk factors may be autoimmune, genetic or environmental. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin by injection or pump.
  • Type 2: This occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or properly use the insulin it makes. This type accounts for 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. As the disease progresses, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce insulin. Type 2 has many risk factors and may be prevented.
  • Gestational: This is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed in some women when pregnant.
  • Pre-diabetes: A condition that raises the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. People with pre-diabetes have higher than normal glucose levels but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. The ADA states that the fasting blood sugar 100-125mg/dl is pre-diabetes.

​What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem harmless. Some diabetes symptoms include:

  • ​Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your doctor.​​

How is diabetes treated?

Type 1 diabetics must take insulin to survive. Diet and exercise are also part of the daily regimen. People with Type 2 diabetes focus on healthy eating and exercise, weight loss if needed, oral medications and/or insulin. Gestational, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome are treated much like Type 2.

What are the complications of diabetes?

  • Heart disease and stroke: 65% of deaths; two to four times higher than those without diabetes
  • High blood pressure: 73% with diabetes have blood pressure > 130/80 or use antihypertensive meds
  • Blindness: 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness diagnosed yearly
  • Kidney disease: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure
  • Nervous System Disease: 60-70% of diabetics have mild to severe forms of nervous system disease
  • Amputation: 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations occur in people with diabetes
  • Dental disease
  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
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