Do I need to be tested for diabetes?
Maybe. You should be tested for diabetes if you are between 40 and 70 years old and are overweight or obese. Your doctor may recommend testing earlier than age 40 if you also have other risk factors for diabetes. Also, talk to your doctor about diabetes testing if you have signs or symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor will use a blood test to see if you have diabetes.
If the testing shows that your blood sugar levels are high, you can begin making healthy changes to your eating habits and getting more physical activity to help prevent diabetes.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes means your blood sugar (glucose) level is higher than normal, but it is lower than the diabetes range. It also means you are at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
As many as 27 million American women have prediabetes.17 If you have prediabetes, you can make healthy changes, such as doing some type of physical activity on most days, to lower your risk of getting diabetes and return to normal blood sugar levels. Losing 7% of your body weight (or 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by more than half. If you have prediabetes, get your blood glucose checked every year by a doctor or nurse.4
How is diabetes treated?
Diabetes treatment includes managing your blood sugar levels to control your symptoms. You can help control your blood sugar levels by eating healthy and getting regular physical activity.
With type 1 diabetes, you also will need to take insulin through shots or an insulin pump. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill.
Type 2 diabetes treatment also may include taking medicine to control your blood sugar. Over time, people with type 2 diabetes make less and less of their own insulin. This may mean that you will need to increase your medicines or start taking insulin shots to keep your diabetes in control.
Learn more about controlling diabetes at the National Diabetes Education Program website.
Is there anything I can do to prevent type 1 diabetes?
Researchers do not know how to prevent type 1 diabetes. Researchers are still looking for ways to prevent type 1 diabetes in women and girls by studying their close relatives who have diabetes.
Is there anything I can do to prevent type 2 diabetes?
Many studies, including the large Diabetes Prevention Program study, have proven that you can prevent diabetes by losing weight. Weight loss through healthy eating and more physical activity improves the way your body uses insulin and glucose.
- Weight loss. Obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes. Calculate your BMI to see whether you’re at a healthy weight. If you’re overweight or obese, start making small changes to your eating habits and get more physical activity. Even a small amount of weight loss (7%, or about 14 pounds for a 200-pound woman) can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Eating healthy. Choose vegetables, whole grains (such as whole wheat or rye bread, whole-grain cereal, or brown rice), beans, and fruit. Read food labels to help you choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Limit processed foods and sugary foods and drinks.
- Getting active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and limit the amount of time you spend sitting.
Is it safe for women with diabetes to get pregnant?
Yes. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can have a healthy pregnancy. If you have diabetes and you want to have a baby, you need to plan ahead, before you get pregnant.
Talk to your doctor before you get pregnant. He or she can talk to you about steps you can take to keep your baby healthy. This may include a diabetes education program to help you better understand your diabetes and how to control it during pregnancy.
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- American Diabetes Association. (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes — 2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl. 1), S11–66.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (NIDDK). (2017). Type 1 diabetes.
- Menke, A., Orchard, T. J., Imperatore, G., Bullard, K. M., Mayer-Davis, E., & Cowie, C. C. (2013). The prevalence of type 1 diabetes in the United States. Epidemiology, 24(5), 773–774.
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- Dabelea, D., Mayer-Davis, E. J., Saydah, S., Imperatore, G., Linder, B., Divers, J., … Hamman, R. F., for the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. (2014). Prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents from 2001 to 2009. JAMA, 311(17), 1778–1786.
- Mayer-Davis, E. J., Lawrence, J. M., Dabelea, D., Divers, J., Ison, S., Dolan, L., … Wagenknecht, L., for the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. (2017). Incidence trends of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among youths, 2002-2012. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(15), 1419–1429.
- CDC. (2018). Leading causes of death in females, 2015 (current listing).
- Blatt, A. J., Nakamoto, J. M., & Kaufman, H. W. (2011). Gaps in diabetes screening during pregnancy and postpartum. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 117, 61–68.
- American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Depression(link is external).
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- NIDDK. (2013). Diabetic neuropathies: The nerve damage of diabetes.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 537–545.
- CDC. (2013). Women at high risk for diabetes: Physical activity, healthy eating, and weight loss (PDF, 865 KB).