When you have diabetes, the level of sugar in your blood is too high. Of the 37.3 million adults with diabetes, 28.7 million were diagnosed, and 8.5 million were undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The rate of diabetes is higher for African-Americans, Latinos, and other minority groups.

Diabetes can hurt your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. It can also make it harder for wounds to heal. And if it isn’t kept under control, it can even lead to death. That’s why it is good to know about diabetes and get the right care. You can take the A1c blood test to tell if you have diabetes or are at risk for it.

Diabetes is linked to insulin, a hormone that helps move sugar into the body’s cells for energy.

Types of diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes – This is the least common, but most severe, type of diabetes. It often starts by the early teen years. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make any insulin at all.
  • Type 2 diabetes – This type of diabetes is much more common and is sometimes called “sugar diabetes.” It often starts slowly, when you are an adult. But, it’s starting to show up in children more frequently now. With type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well, and too much sugar stays in your blood. Drugs can help control type 2 diabetes. Staying active, eating healthy, and losing weight can help, too.
  • Gestational diabetes (during pregnancy) – This can cause problems for both the mother and the child. While the mother’s blood sugar levels usually return to normal after pregnancy, she has a high risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
  • Pre-diabetes – The level of sugar in your blood may be higher than normal, but has not yet reached the level of diabetes. When caught at this stage, you have a chance to make changes to put off or prevent diabetes by losing weight and staying active.

See “My Guide to Sugar Diabetes” to learn more and find out about MUSC’s work to study diabetes and help patients.