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Patient Advocate Foundation
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Home > Resources > PAF Publications > PAF Guides & Major Publications > A Healthier African Am Community > Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where one is unable to control blood sugar. Problems can occur if blood sugar is too high or too low. Diabetes occurs when the body is either unable to make enough insulin or it becomes unable to use the amount of insulin produced. Uncontrolled blood sugar leads to a number of damaging conditions of the body. There are two main types of diabetes.

Type I or "juvenile-onset" usually begins during childhood or early adulthood. The body does not produce enough insulin and the patient must give
themselves shots of insulin.

Type II diabetes is also called "adult-onset" or "non-insulin dependent" diabetes. It is usually associated with being overweight and has a tendency to run in families. Usually the body makes enough insulin, but cannot use it properly.

African Americans and Diabetes
African Americans experience higher rates of complications of diabetes: cardiovascular diseases, blindness, amputation of limbs and kidney failure. Becoming educated about the symptoms, treatments and preventions will go a long way to prevent the development of diabetes or maintain control of this condition.

Signs and Symptoms:
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling more tired
  • Loss of weight
  • Blurry vision

Risk Factors:
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Age
  • Family History
  • History of having a large birth weight baby (over 9 lbs)
  • Low physical activity

Prevention/Best Defense
Type I diabetes cannot be prevented since this condition is usually linked to a family history. Type II diabetes cannot always be prevented, however a healthy diet and regular exercise can lower the risk of developing this condition. Education is the single most important factor in preventing complications.

If You Have Diabetes
  • See your doctor regularly
  • Check your blood sugar as recommended
  • Follow your diet
  • Have your blood pressure checked often
  • Take all prescribed medicines as ordered
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Exercise regularly