Diabetes: Types, Symptoms, Risks and Support

November 14th, 2019

For diabetes awareness month, we’re taking a look at some of the symptoms, risks, support and more for different types of diabetes. We’ll explore some of the support offered by Liberty HealthShare’s HealthShareRx and HealthTrac programs. First, let’s take a look at some of the different types of diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) can occur at any age, in people of every race and of every shape and size. 1.25 million Americans live with this disease and 40,000 people will be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this year.

T1D is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas does not produce insulin. The body breaks down carbohydrates into blood sugar that it uses for energy, and insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, it is possible to learn to manage the condition and live a long, healthy life.

T1D requires constant, careful management. Balancing insulin intake with living a healthy lifestyle including exercise and proper diet, those with T1D can live a normal life and accomplish everything that anyone else could.


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is the most common form of diabetes and most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it. With T2D, the body doesn’t use insulin properly. While some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it.

A key part of managing T2D is maintaining a healthy diet. That includes seeking out helpful tips and diet plans that best suit each individual’s lifestyle and finding ways to make the body’s nutritional intake work the hardest.

Fitness is another key to managing T2D. And the good news is all a person has to do is get moving. The key is to find enjoyable activities and do them as often as possible. No matter how fit someone is, a little activity every day can help fight T2D.


Gestational diabetes can be a scary diagnosis, but like other forms of diabetes, it’s one that is manageable. It is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. By working with doctors, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

The cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, but it happens to millions of women. What is known is that sometimes hormones block a mother’s insulin and causes insulin resistance, which makes it hard for a mother’s body to use insulin. This means she may need up to three times as much insulin to compensate.

The key to treatment is acting quickly, because left untreated, gestational diabetes can hurt both mother and baby. Doctors can help keep blood sugar levels normal through special meal plans and regular physical activity. Treatment may also include daily blood sugar testing and insulin injections.


When it comes to prediabetes, there are no clear symptoms. A person may have it and not know it. That’s important because before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

It is important to check with a doctor and get tested. A person who has prediabetes doesn’t always develop type 2, and a treatment plan combined with diet and exercise are keys to prevention. Even small changes can have a huge impact on managing this disease or preventing it altogether.


It is possible to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. It just takes a decision. Decide to stay at a healthy weight. Decide to eat well. Decide to be active. If a person is at risk, paying attention to living a healthy lifestyle or getting early treatment can actually return blood sugar levels to a normal range.

There are many factors that can be controlled. Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes and even heart disease. The chances of having prediabetes increase if an individual:

  • Is age 45 or older
  • Is Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Has a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
  • Is overweight
  • Is physically inactive
  • Has high blood pressure or take medicine for high blood pressure
  • Has low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
  • Had diabetes during pregnancy
  • Has been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Being overweight it impacts more than the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It leads to unhealthy cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, high blood sugar, and even stroke. But losing just 10-15 pounds can make a big difference.

Smoking is another risk factor. It reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your organs and causes a range of issues, from high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol to heart attack and stroke.


The symptoms of diabetes listed below are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed. Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss, even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.


The A1C test is the most common to determine diabetes diagnosis. This relatively simple blood test can give you a picture of your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. The higher the levels, the greater your risk of developing diabetes complications. However, A1C target levels can vary by each person’s age and other factors. The goal for most adults with diabetes is an A1C that is less than seven percent. A person with an A1C level is between 5.7 percent and less than 6.5 percent is in the prediabetes range. A person with an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher is in the diabetes range.

Information about other tests used to diagnose diabetes can be found at www.diabetes.org/a1c/diagnosis.


Liberty HealShare’s HealthShareRx program has a diabetes program that offers substantial savings on diabetic supplies and medications. The Save On Diabetes program offers members a free meter, low-cost testing strips, lancets, and more – including 15 oral medications available for free with a valid prescription.

Liberty HealthShare also offers assistance to members through our HealthTrac program. Members with conditions including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and more have access to a personal health coach who provides one-on-one support to help guide them to better lifestyle habits that can aid in overcoming those conditions.

Although there are many similarities between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the cause of each is very different, and the treatment is usually quite different as well. Some people, especially adults who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, may have symptoms similar to type 2 diabetes, and this overlap between types can be confusing. The American Diabetes Association and its website, www.diabetes.org, are great sources of information and support for anyone who has questions or concerns about diabetes.

Source: www.diabetes.org