Diabetes Fact Sheet

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Diabetes management at UK HealthCare

The Division of Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine offers diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, pituitary disease and other endocrine disorders.

Understanding diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that "unlocks" cells of the body. When these cells are unlocked, glucose - a form of sugar in the blood, is able to enter and fuel them. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose, the main source of fuel for the body.

Diabetes basics

When we eat, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into our cells. In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas produces little or no insulin or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine and passes out of the body. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose. Over the years, high blood glucose, also called hyperglycemia, damages nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections and amputation.

Types of diabetes

  • Type 1 Diabetes - This type of diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin. A person with type 1 diabetes must take insulin each day to live. Five to 10 percent of Americans have type 1 diabetes and it is most common in children and young adults, but can develop at any age.
  • Type 2 Diabetes - Results from insulin resistance - when the body does not properly use insulin.
    Ninety to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity and
    ethnicity. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.
  • Gestational Diabetes - This type of diabetes only develops during pregnancy. Like type 2 diabetes,
    it is more common among African Americans, Hispanic Americans and women with a family history of diabetes.
  • Pre-diabetes - In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be characterized as diabetes. However, many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Prediabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, people with pre-diabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosing diabetes

The following tests are used for diagnosing diabetes.

  • A fasting plasma glucose test measures your blood glucose after you have gone at least eight hours without eating. This test is used to detect diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test measures your blood glucose after you have gone at least eight hours without eating and two hours after you drink a glucose-containing beverage. This test can be used to diagnose diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  • In a random plasma glucose test, your doctor checks your blood glucose without regard to when you ate your last meal. This test, along with an assessment of symptoms, is used to diagnose diabetes but not prediabetes.

Managing diabetes

People diagnosed with diabetes will work closely with their physician to help them monitor their diabetes. An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in diabetes care. The goal of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible. Diabetes can be kept under control through taking insulin, healthy eating, physical activity and blood glucose testing.

Lifestyle approaches

People with diabetes should work with their physician to develop a plan for a healthy diet and physical activity. Although type 1 diabetes is often associated with genetics, type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and diet can be an important factor in preventing diabetes.

Medical approaches

Researchers continue to find new ways to diagnose and prevent diabetes. Through medical research and genetic advances, it is now possible to screen relatives of people with type 1 diabetes to determine whether they are at risk.

Diabetes quick facts

  • Diabetes affects 18.2 million people, 6.3 percent of the U.S. population.
  • One in three Americans are living with diabetes and do not know it.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of death and disability.
  • People of any age can get diabetes.
  • You are at a higher risk of having diabetes if you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight or are African American or Hispanic.


UK HealthCare
Our researchers and physicians are making advances with diabetes. Call for more information or to schedule and appointment with an endocrinologist.
859-257-1000 or 800-333-8874
UK Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine  

American Diabetes Association
Offers a risk test and educational information about the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)

National Diabetes Education Program
A partnership of the National Institutes of Health offering education, clinical trials and free publications.

Page last updated: 8/7/2015 4:10:15 PM