Urban Healthcare Initiative Program

What is Diabetes?

What Is Diabetes?

A condition where your body is no longer able to regulate your blood sugar. Either you don’t make enough insulin (type 1), or your cells have become resistant to it (type 2).

When you eat, your body converts the sugar and carbohydrates from food into glucose, a sugar that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Insulin helps your cells absorb the glucose, giving them the energy they need to work properly.

With diabetes, your cells can’t absorb the glucose, so they starve and stop working. Since the glucose isn’t being used, it builds up in your bloodstream, eventually becoming toxic. With type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is still making insulin trying to process all that extra glucose, which causes toxic levels of insulin, too.

Am I at Risk for Diabetes?

Anyone can get diabetes. However, you have a higher risk if you are:

  • Overweight
  • Inactive (exercise less than three times a week)
  • African American/Black, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Asian
  • Age 45 or older
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have abnormal blood fat (cholesterol or triglycerides)
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. Type 2 is treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications (pills), and insulin.

  • When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:
  • Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
    Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

For more information contact your medical provider or go to: www.diabetes.org

Symptoms of Diabetes

Have you already been diagnosed with Diabetes but are concerned about symptoms that may be the result of complications related to diabetes?

The following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.

Although there are many similarities between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the cause of each is very different. And the treatment is usually quite different, too. Some people, especially adults who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, may have symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes and this overlap between types can be confusing. Take our Risk Test to find out if you are at increased risk for having type 2 diabetes.


How Will I Know If I Have Diabetes

The best way to know if you have diabetes is to get tested for it.  This is done with a simple blood test to check your blood sugar levels.  If you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider. Ask to be tested for it.


What Can I Do if I am at Risk for Diabetes
  • Be physically active on a regular basis
  • Lose weight, if you need to
  • Eat less fat
  • Keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fats under control
  • Get tested for diabetes
Maintaining Steady Blood Sugar Levels

Maintain Steady Blood Sugar Levels
Since high blood sugar is so dangerous, and is the main indicator of diabetes, people mistakenly think low blood sugar is the main goal of treatment. Not true; low blood sugar starves your cells, too.

The main goal when you’re diabetic is to keep blood sugar levels steady and consistent. It’s the up-and-down, not just the “up”, that really wreaks havoc on your body.

  • 100 – 140 is where you want to keep it
  • 140 – 160 is high, over 160 is dangerous – and over 200 can be fatal
  • Under 100 is low, under 80 is too low – under 60 and you’ll probably pass out.
  • See your physician to develop a treatment plan that is best for you.
Kidney Disease and Diabetes - Did You Know???

Did you know, according to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease? Every year, there are 62,012 new cases of end-stage kidney disease, with diabetes as the primary cause.

The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes—including combating other chronic conditions, like kidney disease, that can accompany a diabetes diagnosis.

The ABC's of Diabetes

A​ stands for A1C
The A1C test measures the average amount of sugar that has been in your blood over the past 2 to 3 months. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends an A1C goal of less than 7% for many adults with diabetes. The A1C goal for some people may need to be higher or lower. Ask your doctor what is the right A1C goal for you

B stands for blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through your blood vessels. Many people with type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure. High blood pressure means that your heart is working harder than it should to pump blood through your body. You should have your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor.

C ​stands for cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) are 2 types of cholesterol in your blood. LDL is “bad” because it narrows or blocks blood vessels. This can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. HDL is often called “good” because it can carry “bad” cholesterol away from the walls of your arteries. Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test. Most adults should have a fasting lipid profile done at least once a year. Your doctor will set goals that are right for you.

Diabetes and Law Enforcement - KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!!!

Diabestes and Law Enforcement – Know Your Rights!!!

People with diabetes have the right to be treated equally in all areas of life, including in the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. The following situations are of great concern to the American Diabetes Association:

  • Law enforcement officers failing to identify hypoglycemia emergencies, mistaking them for intoxication or noncompliance. This can lead to the individual being seriously injured during the arrest, or even passing away because the need for medical care was not recognized in time.
  • Individuals in short-term custody, for example, in police stations or jails before being charged with a crime, are denied all diabetes care, resulting in severe complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, which can develop in a matter of hours.
  • Individuals serving their sentences receive inadequate care and develop serious complications like blindness, kidney failure, and loss of limbs as a result.

The American Diabetes Association has created and collected several resources that may be helpful for people experiencing this unfair treatment. Scroll down for relevant medical information and for information on the rights of people with diabetes.

Important note: There are often very strict time limits and procedural requirements for initiating legal action. In particular, if you are in prison, it is important that you comply with any administrative complaint procedures because otherwise your claims may be limited by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. If you are challenging treatment you received during an arrest, you should investigate as soon as possible your state’s statute of limitations for your claim. Additionally, many states require that you file a “notice of claim” if you are even considering a lawsuit against a city, municipal, or state entity. Sometimes the time period for filing a notice of claim can be three months or even less. If you do not give such notice, even if you may still have some remedies, many other state law remedies may be closed off to you

Educate your community

The best way to address mistreatment is to prevent it by educating law enforcement agencies. American Diabetes Advocates throughout the country are helping to educate their local police and sheriff departments about how to best respond to people experience diabetes emergencies, and how to provide adequate care to them while in custody.

Medical information

Medical Alert Card (PDF)
Download, print and carry the Association’s medical alert card. In case of an emergency, it provides law enforcement officers and other first responders with critical information to help keep you safe. You may also order packets of 25 cards printed on cardstock at www.shopdiabetes.org. You pay only the cost of shipping. This card is also available in Spanish.

Blood sugar logs
People in detention may not be given a log to keep track of their blood sugar levels. With this tool, a detailed record of all blood sugar levels can be kept independently of whether or not the facility employees provide a log.

Diabetes Basics
Learn more about the different types of diabetes, blood sugar testingcommon insulin regimescomplications and more.

Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
Many states are starting initiatives that permit incarcerated people to more easily connect to health care upon their release. For example, in some states, individuals can enroll in Medicaid while incarcerated so that benefits can begin immediately upon release.

Management of Diabetes Federal Bureau of Prisons Clinical Practice Guidelines
These guidelines only apply to the Bureau of Prisons. Managing security needs of the institution and the medical needs of inmates is a real concern, but these guidelines show that improved diabetes care in detention is possible. The Appendix has several inmate handouts that may be useful.

Prisoner Diabetes Handbook A Guide by Prisoners, for Prisoners
From the Southern Poverty Law Center, this guide provides practical advice for managing diabetes in a very challenging situation.

Legal information

American Diabetes Association Frequently Asked Questions: Diabetes in Jails, Prisons, and Other Places of Detention (PDF)
Learn about the rights of individuals in detention and strategies to obtain adequate medical care.

Questionnaire: Diabetes in Jails, Prisons, and Other Places of Detention (PDF)
Complaints about diabetes care must be specific and well-documented. This document can be used to identify potential problems with diabetes care. Family members in particular can use this as a guide to determine what shortcomings in care there may be.

The American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project
The ACLU’s National Prison Project provides many resources, including its Prisoners’ Assistance Directory and many fact sheets on the rights of prisoners.

National Police Accountability Project of the National Lawyers Guild
If you have concerns about your treatment by law enforcement, the National Police Accountability Project provides many resources. The website includes a directory of attorneys who represent individuals alleging civil rights violations against law enforcement officers and agencies.

American Diabetes Association – Know your legal rights

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