Melissa Magstadt, South Dakota Secretary of Health

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. In type 2 diabetes, insulin is still being produced, however there is either not enough insulin or it isn’t working properly in the body - not allowing sugar into the body's cells for energy and blood sugar to rise.

Diabetes affects more than 62,000 South Dakotans. The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing for the past several years. As the rate and prevalence of people overweight increases, diabetes rates are also expected to increase substantially.

Click on each type of diabetes below to learn more.


Prediabetes: Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84 million American adults — more than 1 out of 3 — have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetesheart disease, and stroke.

The good news is that if you have prediabetes, you can prevent developing type 2 diabetes! See the Diabetes Prevention section to learn more.

To see if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and may have prediabetes, take the risk test at To learn more about Prediabetes visit the SD Diabetes Coalition’s What is Prediabetes pages.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes:

  • Having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Age. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but appears in peaks in children 4-7 years old and 10-14 years old.


Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Being very tired
  • Having blurry vision
  • Losing weight, even though you are eating more


Testing for type 1 diabetes is done through a blood test at your doctor’s office. If you have any of the symptoms or risk factors listed, please contact your doctor right away.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the Diabetes Self-Management Education Support & Training (DSMES/T) Program can help. Check out more information on this program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information and articles specific to type 1 diabetes.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is a great resource for type 1 diabetes: or

Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, however, there is either not enough insulin or it doesn't work properly in the body. When there is not enough insulin, or the insulin is not used as it should be, sugar cannot get into the body's cells for use as energy. This causes blood sugar to rise. Type 2 diabetes is most common in people over age 45 who are overweight. Some people with type 2 diabetes can manage it by controlling their weight, watching their diet, and exercising regularly. Others might also need to take an oral or injectable medications or insulin.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Older age
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • History of having Gestational Diabetes
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Being of African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent


Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

Some people have type 2 diabetes and don’t even know it. There are not always symptoms present. Some symptoms a person may experience include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Urinating more often
  • Being more hungry
  • Feeling very tired
  • Having blurry vision
  • Having wounds that are slow to heal or having infections often
  • Having darkened areas of the skin, usually in the armpits and neck

Testing for type 2 diabetes can be done through a blood test at your doctor’s office. To assess your risk for type 2 diabetes, check out the "Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test" here.

Treatment for managing type 2 diabetes comes in many forms and in many combinations. Some people need to use insulin, while others use oral medications, however everyone can benefit from healthy diet and exercise. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the Diabetes Self-Management Education Support & Training (DSMES/T) Program can help. Check out more information on this program here and to find a DSMES/T location near you click here.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when a woman’s blood sugar is higher than normal during pregnancy. Usually the body can make more insulin during pregnancy to keep blood sugar normal, but in some women the body cannot make enough insulin during pregnancy, and blood sugar levels go up leading to gestational diabetes. Having gestational diabetes increases a women's risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of the child someday developing type 2 diabetes.

Several risk factors are linked to gestational diabetes. It can occur in women who have no risk factors, but it is more likely in women who:

  • are overweight or obese
  • are physically inactive
  • had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • had a very large baby (9 pounds or more) in a previous pregnancy
  • have high blood pressure
  • have a history of heart disease
  • have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • are of African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Island background 

Often, there are no symptoms of having gestational diabetes. Your doctor will do a blood test near the 24th week of pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes.

When a woman has gestational diabetes, her body passes more sugar to her fetus than it needs. With too much sugar, her fetus can gain a lot of weight. A large fetus (weighing 9 pounds or more) can lead to complications for the woman, including

  • labor difficulties
  • cesarean delivery
  • heavy bleeding after delivery
  • severe tears in the vagina or the area between the vagina and the anus with a vaginal birth

Management of gestational diabetes includes testing your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, and getting exercise. Some women need to use insulin, too.

Diabetes During Pregnancy: What is Gestational Diabetes? American Diabetes Association video
For more information on gestational diabetes visit:

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