Did you know…

  • 1 in 10 Americans are affected by diabetes1
  • 1 in 3 Americans are living with prediabetes1
  • 80% of people with prediabetes don’t realize they have it2

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body processes sugar (glucose) in the blood.2 The body breaks down the nutrients in food into blood sugar. Your pancreas produces and releases a hormone called insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin reduces blood sugar levels back to the normal range.

When insulin is not present or not effective at helping the body reduce blood sugar levels, it causes health complications.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (less common)

  • The body does not produce insulin at all.
  • Must be treated with insulin.

Type 2 diabetes (more common)

  • The body produces insulin but does not use it properly.
  • May require lifestyle changes. It could be personalized nutrition and exercise plans, medication or a combination of all three.

Gestational diabetes

  • During pregnancy, the body is not able to produce or use insulin properly.
  • Treatment could include changes in diet, activity levels and even medication.
  • May or may not develop into type 2 diabetes later.

Prediabetes

  • When a person has high blood sugar levels but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
  • Improving your diet and increasing your activity level may delay or prevent developing type 2 diabetes.

How diabetes affects the body

Because sugar runs in the bloodstream, diabetes can affect almost everything. It specifically impacts parts of the body that rely on the blood vessels to function, like:

  • eyes
  • kidneys
  • hands
  • feet
  • arms and legs
  • heart

Managing blood sugar is important to keep the blood vessels healthy. The vessels will help to keep these parts of the body functioning at their best.

6 tips for managing diabetes

With the right lifestyle and good habits, people living with diabetes can live long, healthy lives. Here are six suggestions2,3 to keep you healthy:

  • Get plenty of physical activity (150 minutes weekly)
  • Eat a balanced diet to reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay hydrated—take in fluids throughout the day (about eight cups of eight ounces)
  • Get support to stop smoking and help manage stress
  • Monitor and manage blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Take meds as prescribed

Scheduling regular doctors’ visits and exams is the most important way a person living with diabetes or prediabetes can stay healthy. These visits include regular appointments with a primary care doctor or an endocrinologist. They can also include lab tests and annual eye exams.

Talk to your care team

See how Barb used the Teladoc Health Diabetes Prevention Program to take control over her health. 

Published November 2, 2023

1https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-stat-report.html
2https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html
3https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-risk/prediabetes

Additional source: 2017–March 2020 National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey (NHANES), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm

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