November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day. Throughout the month, advocates will rally together in support of this chronic and sometimes debilitating condition.
Diabetes is one of those diseases that although is widely known, is still undiagnosed at high numbers. There are also some less-known facts that people may not know. In order to talk about it, let’s look at some of the numbers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to them, more than 34 million adults in our country have some form of diabetes but one in five doesn’t even know it. In the past two decades, the number of people diagnosed has doubled.
This could be due to a myriad of different things, such as an influx in unhealthy foods being more readily available and other factors that will be mentioned later. It’s also the seventh leading cause in the U.S.
There are three different types of diabetes. Every type comes down to an inability to produce and use insulin correctly. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and balances your blood glucose levels and supplies the muscles and cells with energy when needed.
When this goes out of whack, diabetes is the result.
The three types are Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. Type 1 is the least common.
The current idea is that it’s caused by an autoimmune response wherein the body attacks itself. The result is that your body stops producing insulin. Type 1 is usually diagnosed young, in children and teens but can show up at any age. Sufferers have to take insulin for the rest of their lives.
Type 2 is more common and probably more well-known. Between 90 - 95% of diabetes sufferers have this type. It’s usually diagnosed in adults but can crop up in children, teens and young adults. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which can not be prevented, Type 2 can not only be prevented but at the very least delayed. This relies heavily on adopting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a clean diet free of junk foods.
Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy in women who didn’t previously have diabetes. Although it usually goes away after giving birth, it can increase the chances of developing Type 2 sometime down the line. The child is also at an increased risk of getting it later in life.
Aside from those three types, there’s also something called prediabetes — blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be full-blown diabetes. It is estimated that one in three adults in the U.S. have this and more than 80% don’t know it.
Diabetes can create a longlist of symptoms ranging from frequent urination, blurry vision, constant hunger pangs, feeling tired, numbness and more. Type 1 usually shows symptoms more quickly, but with Type 2 and gestational subtypes symptoms may not show at all, or in the case of Type 2 could take years to become noticeable.
Living with this condition can definitely be difficult, but there are helpful resources out there to get you through the tough times. The Center for Disease Control (cdc.gov) has a National Diabetes Prevention Program with information geared toward prevention and management of Type of 2 diabetes. If you think you are at risk or have already been diagnosed, educating yourself is easy as there is a lot of easily available information. Knowing the possible dire outcomes can serve as a great motivation for necessary lifestyle change.