Twenty-six million people have it, and millions more are expected to get it. But the truth is most of us could avoid the predominant form of diabetes.

“There’s different classifications of diabetes. Most of the people in the United States that have diabetes have Type 2 diabetes. It used to be called adult onset diabetes and has been called non-insulin dependent diabetes but we more clearly call it Type 2,” says Sharon Tilbe, a certified diabetes coordinator with Lee Memorial Health System.

The less common form is Type 1 diabetes, which is naturally occurring. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder, which used to be called juvenile diabetes since it’s most often diagnosed in children and young adults.

“The difference between the types of diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is the situation where the pancreas is no longer making any insulin at all,” says Tilbe.

Unlike Type 1, Type 2 develops slowly over time when the body stops managing insulin correctly.

“Type 2 diabetes is a combination of someone not using their insulin efficiently or not making enough of insulin,” says Tilbe.

A notable difference is that unlike Type 1, Type 2 diabetes can often be averted with some changes in lifestyle.

Stan Hillman learned the hard way after he was diagnosed with Type 2.

“I guess I brought it upon myself by eating the wrong stuff and never thinking that this would catch up with me. But it does, it catches up with anybody.”

Risk factors include excess body weight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low activity, metabolic syndrome and age.

The wake up call made Stan revaluate his lifestyle.

“Diet and exercise those are things that are going to make it go for the long run. I stay away from sweets totally.”

Left untreated, either type can lead to serious complications like cardiovascular disease and stroke. Diabetes educators are available through Lee Health Solutions to help you take control of your life.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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