November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. More than 34 million Americans have diabetes and approximately one in three people in the United States are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. Diabetes can develop either due to inadequate or non-production of insulin or result from your body's inability to use or respond to the insulin it does produce.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop at any age.
- Type 2 diabetes, once known as adult-onset diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the body resists the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Today more children are being diagnosed with the disorder, probably due to the rise in childhood obesity.
- Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed in a woman during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect the pregnancy and the baby's health.
Early detection and diagnosis of diabetes is key to treatment. It is important to identify and recognize the various signs and symptoms of diabetes and get screened and tested to help decrease your risk of developing complications.
Reduce Your Risk
Here are recommendations that may help prevent, manage, or lower your risk of developing diabetes:
- Work with your primary care physician or medical health professional to help manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Develop or maintain a healthy diet. Work with a dietitian or diabetes educator to fine tune an eating plan that will help manage blood sugar.
- Get moving. Find activities you love and do them as often as you can.
- Stop smoking or using tobacco products.
- Learn ways to manage stress.
Contact your physician if you have questions about diabetes and before you start any new diet or exercise plan. For resources and scientifically accurate information about diabetes visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention diabetes website.