November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, or blindness. Currently, more than 37 million U.S. adults have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them do not know they have it. In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Diabetes can develop either due to inadequate or non-production of insulin or because of 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 diagnosed with the disorder, which is likely correlated with 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.
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 to get screened and tested to help decrease your risk of developing complications.
Before developing type 2 diabetes, most people have prediabetes; their blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough yet for a diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes is very common. Ninety-six million U.S. adults have prediabetes, although more than 80% of them do not know they do. The good news is prediabetes can be reversed.
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 and maintain regular physical activity.
- Don’t smoke. 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.