November is Diabetes Awareness Month
An estimated 7.3 million Americans have diabetes and do not know it. An additional 26.8 million Americans are living with a diabetes diagnosis. Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of complications from the flu and other viruses, infection and sepsis, developing cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The good news is, diabetes can be managed and sometimes can even be prevented or delayed, which is why it is important to know the risk factors and symptoms.
November is diabetes awareness month and the perfect time to learn about the different kinds of diabetes, risk factors and ways to manage or prevent diabetes.
Kinds of Diabetes
There are three different kinds of diabetes, as well as prediabetes.
· Type 1 diabetes affects nearly 1.4 million adults and approximately 187,000 children in the United States. When someone has type 1 diabetes, their body does not produce insulin properly—the hormone used to regulate blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and usually develops when you are a child or teen but can happen at any age.
· Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and it occurs when your body produces insulin but does not use it as it should. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes usually appear gradually over the course of several years, making them difficult to spot. It is important to know the risk factors of type 2 diabetes so you can catch it early.
· Gestational diabetes can show up in the middle of a pregnancy and usually does not have any symptoms. If you are pregnant, you should be tested for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy.
· Prediabetes is marked by elevated blood sugar levels but has no clear symptoms so it is possible to have it and not even know. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they usually have prediabetes. Knowing you have prediabetes puts you at an advantage to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with a doctor to get your blood sugar tested.
- Urinating (peeing) more times in a day or night than you normally do
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss without trying
- Dry skin (and/or sores that take a long time to heal)
- Blurry vision
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Diabetes Risk Factors
Knowing the risk factors for diabetes can help you be aware of your potential for developing it. You are at an increased risk for developing diabetes if you:
Type 1 Diabetes
- Have a parent, brother or sister with type 1 diabetes
- Are a child, teen or young adult (you can develop type 1 diabetes at any age but it is more likely to first appear when you are young)
Type 2 Diabetes (and Prediabetes)
- Have prediabetes
- Are overweight
- Are physically active less than 3 times a week
- Are over the age of 45 (you can develop type 2 diabetes at any age but it is more common after the age of 45)
- Have a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Previously had gestational diabetes
- Are a Hispanic/Latino American, African American, American Indian or Alaska Native (some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at higher risk)
Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition that can be managed with insulin therapy and living a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy diet and regular physical activity are the two biggest components in managing type 2 diabetes in addition to medication.
National diabetes month is an opportunity to educate people on the signs and symptoms of prediabetes and diabetes, as well as connect them with resources to be proactive in their health. The earlier people know they are at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, the more opportunities they have to prevent, delay or manage diabetes.
Ways to Increase Awareness of Diabetes
- Wear blue. Blue is the global diabetes awareness color. Go on a walk or exercise while a wearing blue ribbon and take a photo to share on social media.
- Display a blue circle in your window. A blue circle is the global symbol for diabetes.
- Celebrate World Diabetes Day. November is American diabetes month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is The Nurse and Diabetes. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the critical role nurses play in providing support for people living with diabetes.
- Join the Global Diabetes Walk. People around the world will be walking throughout November to spread awareness about diabetes prevention and care. You can register online and create your own walk for National Diabetes Day, or any day in November. Walk at home on the treadmill or join friends for a walk around the neighborhood. Make sure to wear blue!
- Share photos. Share photos of the National Diabetes Month activities you are participating in and use the hashtag #WDD for World Diabetes Day. Download the Blue Circle Selfie App to promote the global diabetes symbol and message in a fun and engaging way.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, or suspects you may have prediabetes, there are resources available for support. The best time to act with diabetes and prediabetes is now.
Ask your doctor if your local healthcare network offers diabetes and nutrition education programs. These programs often use teams of endocrinologists, nurses, registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators to tailor care and support to each patient. Services can include:
- Free diabetes prevention education
- Free community cooking classes
- One-on-one Medical Nutrition Therapy with a nutrition expert
- Pediatric and adolescent weight management program
- Insulin pump training
- Diabetes support group
- More services and resources specific to each patient's needs
For more information on diabetes prevention and support at Reid Health, to ask questions, or register for a class, please call our diabetes educators at (765) 983-3423.