Diabetes 101


Early detection and treatment of diabetes can help lower your risk of complications with diabetes. Here are symptoms of diabetes, however, some people may have symptoms that are so mild that they go unnoticed if they have type 2 diabetes.

Common symptoms:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry, even if you are eating
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
  • Frequent urinating
  • Weight loss- even with eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in hands and feet (type 2)

Gestational Diabetes:

It is important for women who are at-risk to be tested at the appropriate time during pregnancy. Women will more than likely have no symptoms if they have gestational diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults, formally known as juvenile diabetes. The body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that needs to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Insulin therapy and other necessary treatments, helps children to learn to manage their condition and to live long, healthy, happy lives.

Medication for Type 1 Diabetes:

Your pancreas is no longer capable of producing insulin. Multiple daily injections with insulin pens, syringes or an insulin pump are tools to help you monitor your blood glucose levels and to properly intake your insulin. Please consult with your doctor to determine which is the best method and which insulin (s) are best for you.

Exercise and Type 1 Diabetes:

Regular physical activity is greatly important for your overall well-being. It is very important to balance your insulin with the food you ear and activity you do, as simple as house hold work. Knowing your body’s blood glucose response to exercise can help keep your blood glucose from getting too low or high. That is all dependent on your levels before starting physical activity, the intensity, the length of time and the changes you’ve made to your insulin doses.

Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) may happen if there is a drop in your blood glucose levels in general or during physical activity. Please monitor and be aware of your levels to prevent this from happening.

If your blood glucose levels are going down before a workout, have a snack before such as carbohydrate foods or drinks (like juice or glucose tabs) that can quickly elevate your blood glucose. A few trial and errors may need to happen to find what best works for your body.

Your blood glucose levels may run high during or after exercise if there is a great amount of intensity which increases your stress hormone levels.

If your blood glucose is elevated before starting exercise, check your blood or urine for ketones (substances that are made when the body breaks down fat for energy), which happens if your diet doesn’t contain the sufficient amount of carbohydrates to supply your body with sugar. If you test positive for ketones, please avoid vigorous activity.

If there are repeated problems with your blood glucose dropping or elevating during or after exercise, please consult with your doctor.

Type 2 Diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Sadly, American Indians/ Alaska Natives suffer disproportionately from Type II diabetes at a rate 182% higher than the general U.S. population.

If you have type 2 diabetes, this means your body does not properly use its insulin. Insulin resistance is a result of this. Your pancreas produces extra amounts of insulin to make up for it, but over time, it is unable to keep normal blood glucose levels.

When glucose builds up in the blood, it can cause two problems:

  • Your cells may be starved for energy
  • Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart. This is important to pay attention to so please, contact your doctor if these symptoms continue to worsen

You will not develop type 2 diabetes automatically if you have pre-diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment can return blood glucose levels back to their normal range.

Please know, that living with diabetes, type 1 or type 2, is livable and manageable. Do not give up!

If you find that you have Type II diabetes contact your local IHS or Tribal health program to see if you qualify for treatment the Special Diabetes Program for Indians.


Keep alert for symptoms of skin infections/disorders. This is fairly common with people who have diabetes.

Reduce your risk of glaucoma, cataracts and other eye problems by scheduling regular checkups with your doctor.

Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage caused from diabetes. Many people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. Contact your doctor and frequently ask questions if you may feel you have nerve damage.

With the right treatment, living with diabetes can be managed. And living a normal lifestyle can continue as long as the right precautions and treatments are being done.

For common myths of Diabetes, please visit the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/myths/?loc=superfooter (Diabetes Myths)

For more detailed information, please visit the American Diabetes Association website