November is American Diabetes Month. Here's a breakdown and what you should know

09, Nov 2023

Did you know that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States?

More than 37 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, yet many adults still do not know the symptoms of diabetes.

This disease is also the No. 1 cause of adult blindness, kidney failure and lower-limb amputations.

Diabetes is a disease condition when your blood glucose is too high. When your body digests food, much of it turns into sugar. As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases insulin, which allows blood sugar to convert to energy within your body's cells.

If you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin or can't utilize it well enough. When there isn't enough insulin or cells don't respond to insulin, too much blood sugar remains in your bloodstream.

Over time, that can cause severe end-organ damage like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage or even visual loss.

There are generally three types of diabetes mellitus: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Approximately 90-95% of people have type 2 diabetes, whereas 5-10% of people have Type 1 diabetes.

When a person has Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot make enough insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that enables glucose from food to enter your cells for peripheral energy utilization.

So, you'll need to take insulin every day to survive.

Symptoms of diabetes include frequency of urination, increased thirst, unintentional weight loss, being hungrier than usual and also having blurry vision.

Type 1 diabetes symptoms develop rapidly over a matter of a few days to weeks.

Type 2 diabetes patients don't use insulin properly and can't maintain blood sugar at normal levels.

When you have Type 2 diabetes, sugar remains in the blood rather than entering into the body's cells to be utilized for energy. It happens when your body can't use insulin the right way.

Type 2 diabetes develops over time and is preventable. If you are at risk, it is vital to get your blood sugar tested by your healthcare provider.

Symptoms include polydipsia (feeling very thirsty), polyphagia (feeling very hungry), or even polyuria (frequency of urination). You may also have blurry vision. 

Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. Those who have never had diabetes usually go away after the baby is born.

However, it can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes later on in life. Your baby is more likely to have childhood obesity and also develop Type 2 diabetes later on in life.

Knowing the risk factors related to diabetes is crucial for awareness and identification of disease symptoms. You are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you have high blood pressure, are 45 years or older, or are overweight; making healthy changes can undoubtedly lower your risks.

Living with diabetes requires daily self-management. The four keys of self-management are making healthy food choices, staying physically active (30 minutes of aerobic exercise a few days a week), monitoring blood sugar regularly, and taking medications as prescribed.

Self-management of the disease will help you feel better and reduce your risks of developing complications like heart disease, eye disorders, kidney disease, nerve damage and more. Getting all of your scheduled health checks and blood tests are important.

Enquire if your health insurance covers services for a weight loss program. Consult a local dietitian who can help you in your nutrition journey.

Get your loved ones involved by asking them to support your dietary and lifestyle changes. Join a diabetic prevention program to network with peers making similar changes.

Call your doctor to seek help in learning the risks, prevention, and management of diabetes, November is American Diabetes Month. Let’s raise awareness across our community and beyond to bring attention to diabetes.


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Dr. Sue Mitra and her staff strive to offer their patients the best care, advice and services available in the medical field with the goal to keep patient healthy & happy.