How much do you know about diabetes? Though surprisingly common in the U.S., knowledge about this condition isn’t widespread. However, understanding this group of illnesses is crucial to a healthy population, as many cases of diabetes can be prevented with proper care.

With that in mind, the team at MedEnvios Healthcare is going to look at some basic but essential diabetes facts. Here’s a breakdown of diabetes’ symptoms, causes, and prevalence in the U.S.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an umbrella term that describes three illnesses that create the same effect: high blood sugar levels. Each type has a different cause but shares symptoms and complications. Elevated blood sugar is a serious condition, which is why individuals with diabetes require ongoing treatment. Because glucose levels fluctuate rapidly and frequently, anyone diagnosed with diabetes of any type must monitor their blood sugar several times daily to prevent long-term damage to their bodies.


Gestational diabetes is a condition that pregnant people can be diagnosed with. Due to hormonal changes, individuals may develop insulin resistance, or they may underproduce it.

Generally, this type of diabetes resolves on its own after the individual gives birth. However, having gestational diabetes is a risk factor for developing type 2 later in life. Children whose parents had this condition during pregnancy may also be at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 1

Individuals with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin, as the pancreatic beta cells that produce it, the immune system, are destroyed. This means patients’ cells are unable to absorb the glucose needed for energy.

What prompts the immune systems to attack beta cells is still unknown, although scientists have identified a few factors. One is genetics, as type 1 diabetes tends to run in families. The second is environmental, as individuals who have had certain viruses are at higher risk of developing this condition.

Type 1 diabetes tends to appear in children and young adults, though it can develop later. The onset of symptoms is rapid, taking only a few weeks to manifest.

Type 2

Rather than being caused by the absence of insulin, type 2 diabetes is actually related to insulin resistance. Individuals with insulin resistance can produce the hormone, but their cells don’t respond to it. This prevents them from absorbing glucose effectively, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance is usually caused by extended periods of high blood glucose levels and tends to appear later in life. Individuals can manage this condition with medication, exercise, and a healthy diet.

What Are the Symptoms?

Diabetes is characterized by hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, or high and low blood sugar. These generally onset quickly as your blood sugar levels fluctuate; factors that can cause fluctuation include exercise, eating, and fasting.

While these symptoms usually dissipate when blood glucose is brought into a normal range, there are serious consequences to long-term hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. In some cases, the damage is irreparable.

Common Symptoms

All three types of diabetes share symptoms:

  • Frequent infections
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness in extremities
  • Blurry vision
  • Intense hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Intense thirst
  • Frequent urination

Additionally, individuals with type 1 diabetes may also experience stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, it’s essential that you visit your doctor as soon as possible.


Untreated diabetes can lead to serious complications that may leave you disabled or result in death in extreme cases. In fact, in the U.S., diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death. Other complications include the following:

  • Amputation of the foot or leg
  • Increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Digestive problems
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Neuropathy
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness

Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Diabetes?

According to diabetes statistics, certain populations are at higher risk of developing the condition than others. Knowing your own risk is essential to maintaining your health; with the
right approach, you may be able to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. If you’re at risk for type 1 diabetes, knowing your risk can help you identify symptoms early and ensure you get treatment right away.


Even if individuals don’t have diabetes type 1 or 2, they could still be at risk for developing gestational diabetes if they become pregnant. The major factors that increase the risk of gestational diabetes are as follows:

  • Race, specifically for individuals of the Asian American, Native American, Hispanic, and Black communities
  • Delivering a baby weighing over 9 pounds in a previous pregnancy
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Prediabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

Type 1 Diabetes

Individuals with a family history of type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of developing it. Patients who had rubella or mumps as children also have increased risk.

Type 2 Diabetes

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes tend to develop over the years, with many people not realizing they’re diabetic until later in life. Studies have identified several risk factors:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Previous gestational diabetes
  • Age, specifically individuals 45 years old and over
  • Race, again for individuals in the Asian American, Native American, Hispanic, and Black communities
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Fat distribution along the waist
  • Lack of physical activity

How Common Is Diabetes?

With all types of diabetes considered, the condition is startlingly common. In fact, one of the most surprising facts about diabetes is that it affects approximately 10% of the U.S. population. When it comes to prediabetes, more than 33% of U.S. adults are affected.


Gestational diabetes is fairly common, affecting between 2% and 10% of pregnancies each year in the U.S. Due to its prevalence, doctors screen for this condition starting in the second trimester.

Type 1 Diabetes

Of all three kinds of diabetes, type 1 is the rarest. It affects around 0.5% of the U.S. population and accounts for about 5% of all diagnoses.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 is the most common diagnosis for people with diabetes. It accounts for over 90% of diabetes and affects about 30.6 million adults in the U.S.

No matter which type of diabetes you have, you need reliable supplies to monitor and treat it. Here at MedEnvios Healthcare, we understand the importance of high-quality medical supplies and fast delivery. That’s why we created a system that allows you to order supplies online and have them shipped right to your door.

We’re a Medicare-approved, licensed, and accredited company that puts emphasis on customer service. To learn more or to see our selection, visit MedEnvios online.

Featured Image: Shutterstock / Raihana Asral


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