November is National Diabetes Month
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are more than 29 million people in the United States with diabetes. About one out of four people with diabetes don't know they have it. Learning more about how to manage diabetes is key to the health of those living with the condition.
What are the types of diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1: Having type 1 diabetes means that your body can't make insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar), so you need to take it every day. It is less common than type 2 diabetes and only about five percent of the people with diabetes have type 1. We don’t know yet how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 2: Most people with diabetes, about 9 out of every 10, have type 2 diabetes. When you have type 2 diabetes that means that your body doesn't use insulin well and is not able to keep blood sugar at normal levels.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
• Being overweight.
• Being 45 years or older.
• Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
• Being physically active less than 3 times a week.
• Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
• Race and ethnicity also matter: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you have any of those risk factors you talk to your doctor to see if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you know if you have diabetes, the sooner you can start making lifestyle choices that can help you manage your diabetes and benefit your health.
Gestational diabetes: This is when you develop diabetes while pregnant, which can put the pregnancy and baby at risk and lead to type 2 diabetes later.
I have been diagnosed with diabetes, how can I manage it?
Managing your diabetes is all about balance. Being mindful of what you eat, your physical activity, taking your medication and checking your blood sugar levels regularly is essential.
You can do this by:
• Eating healthy including eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and salt.
• Being physically active by engaging in physical activity 10 to 20 minutes a day
• Taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
• Testing your blood sugar regularly to understand and track how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels.
The goal of managing your diabetes is to prevent any complications. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for serious health complications like:
• Heart disease and stroke: People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as people without diabetes, and at an earlier age.
• Blindness and eye problems: Diabetic retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retina), cataract (clouding of the lens), and glaucoma (increase in fluid pressure in the eye) can all result in vision loss.
• Kidney disease: High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys over time, long before you start to feel bad.
• Amputations: This means you could lose a foot or leg. Diabetes causes damage to blood vessels and nerves, particularly in the feet, and can lead to serious, hard-to-treat infections. Amputation may be necessary to keep the infection from spreading.
Staying on top of your diabetes and keeping your blood sugar levels under control can help avoid or delay these serious health problems.
Health Tip: Think diabetes is not that serious? Keep these facts in mind.
• At least 1 out of 3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
• Medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high as for people without diabetes.
• Risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50% higher than for adults without diabetes.