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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 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.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas is unable to produce insulin or does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted from the pancreas. It removes glucose, or blood sugar, from the blood and delivers it to the body's cells for fuel.

Know your target blood sugar numbers

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, we recommend that you know these critical health numbers and target ranges for blood sugar measurement:

  • Diabetes HbA1c should be less than 7 percent
  • Diabetes premeal glucose should fall between 70 to 130 mg/dl
  • Diabetes postmeal peak glucose should be less than 180 mg


Types of diabetes
and associated risk factors

Type 1 diabetes - Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and accounts for about 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.

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.

Type 2 diabetes - Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas continues to produce insulin but loses effectiveness. Type 2 diabetes affects the remaining 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.

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.

Diabetes screenings

Diabetes 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.

Locations specializing in this service: