Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which a person has high blood sugar because the body does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.
If your blood sugar level is higher than 200 mg/dL, you may have diabetes. Your doctor will perform a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test to confirm the diagnosis. The test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to the hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body on red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar, the more will be attached to the hemoglobin. An A1C level of 6.5 on two or more occasions indicates you have type diabetes. An A1C level of 5.7 to 6.4 is considered prediabetic.
Type 1 diabetes requires a lifelong commitment to taking insulin, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, and monitoring your blood sugar. Insulin is necessary for type 1 diabetes and can be taken either orally or by injection. Your doctor may prescribe other medications in addition to insulin to help control blood sugar levels.
While there's no cure for type 2 diabetes, it can be managed and even prevented by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough, you may need medications or insulin to manage your blood sugar.
If you suspect you or a loved one might have diabetes, talk to a specialist at UT Southwestern.