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Types, risk factors and symptoms

Home Services Diabetes Types, risk factors and symptoms

Learn your risk,
know the symptoms

More than 21 million Americans have diabetes and many remain undiagnosed. Novant Health’s first priority is to provide the highest-quality diabetes care and education to patients, families and communities. 


Learning about the endocrine system, the signs and symptoms of diabetes, and knowing how factors like lifestyle and family history play a part in developing the disease are important in understanding your risk.


Types of diabetes & risk factors

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that develops in pregnant women with no previous history of diabetes. Most cases clear up after the mother has delivered her baby but it involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child. Risk factors include:

  • Heredity: Diabetes tends to run in families; having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes increases your risk.
  • Being overweight: Being seriously overweight increases insulin resistance.
  • Ethnic background: Hispanic, Native American, African American, and Asian women are at increased risk.

Learn more about gestational diabetes »

Prediabetes

With prediabetes, your body becomes resistant to the effect of insulin and doesn’t take up sugar from the bloodstream as it normally would. This causes the levels of blood sugar to become higher than normal. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood puts you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Learn more about prediabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas continues to produce insulin but loses effectiveness. Type 2 diabetes affects 90 percent of people with diabetes and it usually develops in adulthood. Risk factors include:

  • Heredity: Diabetes tends to run in families; having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes increases your risk.
  • Age: Most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are more than 40 years old.
  • Ethnic background: Type 2 diabetes is more common among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos and Asians.
  • Being overweight: People with inactive lifestyles weighing at least 20 percent more than the recommended weight for their height and build.
  • Higher-than-normal blood glucose levels
  • High blood pressure or heart disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of exercise increases insulin resistance.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at an increased risk.
  • Baby's birth weight: Women who have given birth to babies weighing nine pounds or more are also at higher risk.
  • Using certain drugs: Thiazide diuretics (used to manage high blood pressure) and steroids (used to help with inflammatory conditions) may contribute to type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and accounts for the remaining 10 percent of people with diabetes. Risk factors include:

  • Heredity: Diabetes tends to run in families; having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes increases your risk.
  • Ethnic background: Type 1 diabetes is more common among whites, even though it can happen to people of every race.
  • Age: It generally occurs in children and teens but sometimes develops in adults ages 20 to 40.

Symptoms of diabetes

  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
  • Always hungry
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Sexual problems
  • Vaginal infections
  • Frequent or recurring infections
  • Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal

It is also important to recognize that many people who have type 2 diabetes may display no symptoms.

Prediabetes screenings

As part of the Novant Health Community Wellness Initiative, prediabetes screenings are offered at various times during the year and can help identify people who have diabetes. If the screening shows that your blood glucose level is out of range, you will be encouraged to visit your primary care physician for an evaluation.

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