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Learn about the different types of diabetes, health and diet management plans, and more with these frequently asked questions about diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

About The Disease:

Daily Life & Management:

News & Research:


About the Disease

Q: What is diabetes?

A: Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases where the body’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin or does not properly respond to insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. There are several different types of diabetes, but the most common forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both impact glucose levels, and if left untreated, can cause many complications.

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Q: What is type 1 diabetes?

A: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30s. If a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, their pancreas produces little to no insulin, and the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times every day or continually infuse insulin through a pump, as well as manage their diet and exercise habits.

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Q: What is type 2 diabetes?

A: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) typically develops after age 40, but has recently begun to appear with more frequency in children. If a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, their pancreas still produces insulin, but the body does not produce enough or is not able to use it effectively.

Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes manage their disease through a combination of treatments, including diet control, exercise, self-monitoring of blood glucose, and in some cases, oral drugs or insulin.

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Q: What causes diabetes?

A: Researchers are still trying to get a clear picture of what causes diabetes—they’ve found that genes don’t tell the whole story, and that environmental factors also play a role.

There is also a misconception that the cause of diabetes is hereditary, and primarily occurs in families where there is someone else with diabetes.

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Q: What are the symptoms of diabetes?

A: Knowing the warning signs for type 1 diabetes could help save a life! Type 1 diabetes can often go undiagnosed in its early stages because the symptoms can be mistaken for more common illnesses, like the flu. Take notice if you or your loved one experiences the following:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Sugar in urine
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor or unconsciousness

Call your doctor immediately if one or more of these symptoms occurs in you or your loved one. It is extremely important to receive medical attention—misdiagnosis or leaving your condition untreated can have tragic consequences, including death.

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Daily Life & Management

Q: I’ve recently been diagnosed with T1D. What resources are available to me?

A: JDRF has a number of resources that can help you navigate the various stages of life with T1D. First, TypeOneNation.org, is an online community for people touched by T1D. In addition, you can download our Newly Diagnosed toolkit, a comprehensive guidebook that contains important information and insight for adults.

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Q: How do you manage diabetes?

A: Diabetes management is a chronic health condition, but can be managed with proper care from doctors. People diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes must monitor their blood sugar levels several times a day, usually before or after meals. Your doctor will work with you to determine the range of blood sugar levels best for each individual.

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Q: What does blood sugar levels or glucose levels mean?

A: Blood sugar levels—also known as glucose levels—is the amount of glucose present in your blood. Glucose is a major source of energy for cells in the body. Carbohydrates that can be found in fruit, cereal, bread, pasta, and rice convert to glucose in your body.

Regularly checking blood sugar or glucose levels is an essential part of diabetes care. Blood sugar levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A normal blood sugar range is between 70 and 120 mg/dL.

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Q: What treatments are available for diabetes?

A: Each person’s treatment plan for diabetes is different. Treatment plans are mostly dependent on the type of diabetes a person has, as well as their daily activities, diet, and glucose levels.

In order to control their glucose levels, people with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times a day, as well as stay on a consistent diet and exercise regimen. For those with type 2 diabetes, treatment includes diet, exercise, and self-monitoring of blood glucose levels. Also, in some cases, oral drugs or insulin will be used as part of the treatment.

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Q: What food can I eat? What foods should I avoid?

A: People diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes should discuss their individual dietary needs with their doctor or nutritionist. The key is balancing diet, exercise, and insulin intake to achieve blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.

While there aren’t foods you can eat and should avoid specifically, it is important that you discuss with your doctor any concerns you have. There are some guidelines when it comes to carbs and diabetes, fruit and diabetes, or alcohol and diabetes, for example.

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Q: Is fitness and exercise important for those with diabetes?

A: Yes! Fitness and exercise are an integral part of diabetes management—it can help lower blood glucose in addition to many other benefits. You don’t have to run a marathon, just get regular exercise. Anything that gets you moving, like walking, dancing, gardening, or playing tennis or golf is great!

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Q: My child has been diagnosed with diabetes. Does the school need to know?

A: School presents a host of challenging issues for children with type 1 diabetes, and it’s important to work with the school to ensure the best care for your child. JDRF’s School Advisory Toolkit is a comprehensive resource for parents, teachers, nurses, and anyone who provides care for a child with T1D in school.

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Q: I have diabetes and I’m pregnant! What resources are available?

A: Pregnancy or planning a pregnancy with diabetes requires special consideration to help ensure a healthy outcome for mother and child. The JDRF Pregnancy Toolkit is a comprehensive guide for both women and men living with T1D that covers everything from conception to bringing baby home.

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News & Research:

Q: What is the latest research information for diabetes?

A: JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.6 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D.

Additionally, JDRF produces regular research updates to help keep you informed on the latest progress in T1D research. To stay informed on the latest news, review the Research pages on JDRF.org, or check out JDRF’s News Blog.

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Q: Is there a cure for diabetes?

A:: Unfortunately, there is no known cure for diabetes at this time. While there are ways to manage the effects of diabetes and diabetes complications, scientists have yet to find a cure.

JDRF is the leading global organization striving to find a cure by funding T1D research. JDRF’s goal is to improve the lives of every person affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D.

JDRF’s research goals are realized by the projects being supported in 3 basic areas:

  • Cure: Restoring a person’s insulin-producing capability and halting or reversing the body’s misguided immune attack on the pancreas.
  • Treat: Developing new devices and therapies that optimize blood sugar control and treat or prevent diabetes complications
  • Prevent: Preventing T1D from occurring or stopping the disease process before it damages the pancreas.

JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. Support JDRF’s efforts today >

Every dollar will help bring us closer to a world without T1D. Donate
Call: 800-533-CURE (2873) Email: info@jdrf.org

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading diabetes foundation funding T1D research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. Learn more at JDRF.org.