Diabetes in Older People - A Disease You Can Manage

Diabetes is a serious disease. It happens when your blood levels of glucose, a form of sugar, are too high. Diabetes can lead to dangerous health problems. The good news is that high glucose levels can be managed to help control the disease and prevent or delay future problems.

What is Diabetes?

Our bodies change the foods we eat into glucose. Glucose travels through the bloodstream to "fuel" or feed our cells. Insulin is a hormone that helps our bodies use glucose for energy. People with diabetes either do not make insulin, do not use insulin properly, or both. This means they have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood. As a result, they often feel tired, hungry, or thirsty; they may lose weight, urinate often, or have trouble with their eyes. In time, the high levels of this form of sugar in the blood (glucose) can hurt their eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It can also cause heart disease, strokes and even the need to remove all or part of a limb (amputation).

Diabetes tends to run in families, but other factors add to the risk of getting diabetes. For example, being overweight and underactive can sometimes trigger diabetes in people who are at risk. There is a lot of research underway looking at what causes diabetes and how best to manage it. But there is a lot we do know. For example, we know that careful control of blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol can help prevent or delay diabetes and its complications. For more, please read the Diabetes article.