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Home > Resources > PAF Publications > PAF Guides & Major Publications > American Indian - Alaska Native > Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where one is unable to control their 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 ammount of insulin produced. Uncontrolled blood sugar leads to a number of damaging conditions in the body. There are two types of diabetes.

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

Type II diabetes, also called "adult-onset" (although it can be diagnosed among children and teens) or "non-insulin dependent" diabetes. It is usually associated with being overweight and has a tendency to run in families. Usuallythe body makes enough insulin, but cannot use it properly. Becoming educated about the symptoms, treatments and preventions will go a long way to prevent the development of diabetes or maintain control of the condition. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure and/or amputation(s) of the limbs.

Signs and Symptoms:
  • Increased thirst and dry mouth
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Increased fatigue, tiredness
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and/or feet
  • Increased skin infections and/or slow healing wounds
  • Recurrent vaginal yeast infections


Risk Factors:
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Age
  • Family history
  • History of having a large birth weight baby (over 9 lbs.) or having gestational diabetes
  • Low physical activity
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor diet


Prevention/Best Defense:
  • Type I diabetes cannot be prevented since this condition is usually linked to 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 teh single most important factor in preventing complications.


If you have diabetes
  • See your doctor regularly
  • Check your blood sugar as recommended
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Have your blood pressure checked often
  • Take all prescribed medications as ordered
  • Don't smoke, or use tobacco
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Exercise regularly