November is National Diabetes Month

Published 11:38 am Monday, November 8, 2021

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November is National Diabetes Month where organizations across the country spread awareness of the disease. There are four types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, Gestational diabetes, and Pre diabetes.

Diabetes is a long lasting health condition that affects the body’s ability to turn food into energy. In people who have diabetes their body either doesn’t make enough insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar levels and metabolism) or their bodies simply can’t use the insulin as well as it should. Without the proper use of insulin, blood sugar can build up in the bloodstream and can eventually lead to serious health problems like kidney disease and heart disease.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website, an estimated 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of Americans don’t know they have it. The CDC also reported that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and that diagnosis in adults has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

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Type 1 Diabetes affects roughly 5-10 percent of people, and most diagnoses are in children, teens, and young adults. People with Type 1 Diabetes have to take insulin every day. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common, affecting around 90-95 percent of people, according to the CDC. It develops over time and usually isn’t diagnosed until adulthood. This type of diabetes can be prevented or delayed by healthy lifestyle changes.

Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women who did not have diabetes prior to the pregnancy. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing health problems later in life. This form of diabetes most often goes away after the baby is born, but does increase the mother’s chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Pre diabetes affects 88 million adults in the U.S. as reported by the CDC. Around 84 percent of people do not know they have any form of diabetes. Fortunately, pre diabetes can be reversed with healthy and consistent lifestyle choices.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has several tips on how to manage pre diabetes and prevent diabetes. The first tip is to start out small and don’t make huge changes to your lifestyle at once. It also says to expect setbacks, but don’t let them keep you off track. The second tip is to be more active. The NIDDK suggests at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week. The third tip is choosing healthier food and drink options. Foods high in fiber and low in fat and sugar are recommended. Drink water instead of sweetened or carbonated drinks.

The third tip is losing weight and keeping it off. The NIDDK says diabetes may be prevented or delayed by losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight. Seeking support from others is the fourth tip. Family members and healthcare professionals can help with lifestyle changes and keep things on track. The last tip is keeping up with vaccinations. Vaccines for the flu and COVID-19 are important for people who are at a higher risk of catching these viruses, including people with diabetes.