Skip Navigation
Search Menu
Articles & Answers

Ask the Expert

Diabetes: Answers from Diabetes Expert Dr. Rita Kalyani

Print This Page

Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to a number of complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations.

A person with diabetes uses their glucose meter

Dr. Rita Kalyani of the Johns Hopkins Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism clarifies common misconceptions about diabetes—a condition which affects a third of all American adults.

Q: What is diabetes?

A: Diabetes is a serious disease that occurs when the body cannot maintain normal levels of glucose, an important energy source.

There are two major types: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body metabolize glucose. People with type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin early in the disease, but the body doesn’t appropriately respond to its effects.  

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy in women.

Q: What is prediabetes?

A: People with prediabetes have elevated blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but fall just below the criterion for diagnosing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is often a precursor to type 2 diabetes, but those with prediabetes can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.

Q: Is diabetes preventable?

A: Based on current knowledge, it is not clear whether type 1 diabetes is preventable, but a healthy diet and regular exercise can dramatically decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can make a big difference. If you have type 2 diabetes, these same measures may help you manage your blood glucose without insulin.

Video Thumbnail

Meet Dr. Rita Kalyani

Dr. Rita Kalyani is an endocrinologist specializing in the treatment of endocrinological diseases, particularly diabetes.

Play Now

Q: How is diabetes managed?

A: If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to start taking insulin upon diagnosis. People with type 2 diabetes may initially be able to manage the disease with weight loss alone, but most patients take pills and some take insulin. You should work with your doctor to make sure you’re on track with your treatment goals.  

More About Diabetes

Learn more about diabetes in the Johns Hopkins Health Library and discover what you should know about diabetes as you age.

Request an appointment
Johns Hopkins' medical concierge services offer complimentary assistance with appointments and travel planning. Request free assistance:
All fields required *
Outside of Maryland (toll free)
410-464-6713
International Patients
+1-410-502-7683



 

You May Also Like

Eye doctor examines a patient's vision

Diabetes and Vision: Understanding the Link

Uncontrolled blood sugar can affect you from head to toe—including your eyes. Here’s what you need to know.

Woman on a bike takes a sip of her water bottle while biking through a wooded area.

Managing Diabetes: Six Healthy Steps with the Most Benefit

Want to boost your overall health with diabetes? A Johns Hopkins expert offers healthy strategies to help you control your blood sugar, protect your heart, and more.

man stretching his leg

5 Tips for Preventing Sports-Related Injuries

Before you or your young athlete hit the pavement, field or court, it’s important to learn what you can do to prevent sports-related injuries.