November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, or blindness. Currently, more than 34 million Americans are living with diabetes and approximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults 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 as a result of your body’s inability to use or respond to the insulin it does produce.
There are four 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.
- Prediabetes develops when you have higher than normal blood sugar levels that could lead to type 2 diabetes.
Reduce your risk
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.
While the impacts of diabetes can be severe, individuals can reduce their risks and manage their personal complications through lifestyle changes. Here are some small, practical steps that can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and improve your physical and mental health:
- Follow a nutrition plan for healthier eating.
- Set a healthy weight loss goal.
- Maintain regular physical activity.
- Don’t smoke and reduce your alcohol intake.
- Manage your blood sugar and seek support to help meet your health goals.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions about diabetes, or if you plan to start a new diet or exercise plan.