Blood chemistry is a delicate balance, controlled by feedback loops and hormones. Among the most important balances we must maintain is the level of sugar in the blood. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It signals our cells to absorb and use circulating glucose (blood sugar). Blood sugar levels vary with diet. After eating, blood sugar rises, and then falls as glucose is used. Long after a meal, when blood sugar is low, the liver releases glucose into the blood. Insulin moderates this balance.
There are different kinds of diabetes, but all result in high blood sugar as a result of low insulin, or resistance to its effects.
Pre-diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar is too high, but not yet classified as diabetes. Pre-diabetes can be reversed through changes in lifestyle, perhaps motivated by the understanding that diabetes is a life-shortening condition.
Some women have high blood sugar during pregnancy, called Gestational Diabetes. This is the result of hormones in the placenta creating a temporary resistance to the action of insulin. This form of diabetes can affect the health of the fetus, but luckily, gestational diabetes can be treated by modifications to the diet, and blood sugar levels will return to normal shortly after the baby is born. However, women who experience gestational diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Many people have pre-diabetes, and there are no symptoms for it. Pre-diabetes is associated with (but not limited to) obesity.
Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include:
Diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests. A fasting blood sugar level above 125 mg/dL, on two separate tests, is an indication that you have diabetes.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if: