American Diabetes Month
October 28, 2020
Just over 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and the CDC reports that another 3 in 10 have prediabetes, a condition that can turn into full-blown diabetes within just 10 years. In observance of American Diabetes Month this November, take a moment to learn more about diabetes and what steps to take to reduce the likelihood of developing the debilitating condition.
Diabetes is a long-lasting condition that affects the body’s ability to turn food into energy. When the food we eat breaks down into glucose (or sugar), a person’s blood sugar goes up. In response to this, the pancreas releases insulin into the system. Our bodies use that insulin to absorb sugars from the foods we eat into our bloodstream, where it is then converted into energy. People with diabetes either produce too little insulin or struggle to use the insulin that their body makes properly.
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
More and more Americans are developing diabetes now than ever before. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. People can develop type 1 diabetes at any time, though it is most commonly found in children and young adults. When someone has type 1 diabetes, their body stops making insulin altogether. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin – though sometimes not enough – but their cells do not respond to it in the way that they should. People who are 45 and older, who are overweight, exercise fewer than 3 times a week, or who have a family history of diabetes face the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Though less common than type 1 and type 2, millions of women have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes over the years. Gestational diabetes is a form of high blood sugar that affects women during pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes is also considered a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Approximately 10% of women develop gestational diabetes while they are pregnant. Lots of women with gestational diabetes are able to manage their symptoms through exercise, eating healthy, and making regular doctor’s appointments to monitor the baby, but in some cases it is necessary to prescribe medication.
Common Diabetes Complications
National data suggests that at least 1 in 4 people with diabetes do not know that they have it. Having diabetes increases a person’s risk factors for experiencing serious medical complications, such as:
- Blindness and eye damage (retinopathy)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney damage
- Nerve damage or neuropathy
- Skin infections and skin disorders
Limiting Risk Factors for Diabetes
While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, research shows that there are plenty of effective ways that someone can limit their risk factors for developing type 2. Diabetes prevention is much easier than you might expect. In fact, some of the best ways to prevent getting type 2 diabetes is to be physically active, to eat a well-rounded, healthy diet, and to lose any extra pounds. Another good way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to see a doctor if you are age 45 or above, are overweight, or have a family or personal history of diabetes or prediabetes. If you have diabetes, be sure to stay up-to-date on doctor’s visits and to discuss any questions or concerns you have with a trusted medical professional.
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