National Diabetes Month
November is National Diabetes Month and this month and always, it’s important to know your risk and get tested.
What Is Diabetes and Who Is At Risk?
Diabetes is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses glucose or blood sugar. The cause of diabetes varies by type and the disease itself has been known to lead to a number of other serious health problems. There are four main types of diabetes; prediabetes, type 2, type 1, and gestational diabetes. The main risk factors for diabetes are family history, environmental factors, damages immune system cells, and geography, though additional risk factors and specifics vary by type.
More than 1 in 3 adults in the United States have prediabetes. Typically in prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed with type 2. That said, having prediabetes increases your risk of type 2, heart disease, and stroke. Risk factors associated with prediabetes are being overweight or ages 45 and older. You are also at a higher risk if you exercise less than 3 times a week or if you have ever had gestational diabetes.
Type 2 is the most common type and occurs when your body has a difficult time regulating your blood sugar levels. With type 2, it is also difficult for your body to absorb insulin. Risk factors include all of those in conjunction with prediabetes; you are also more at risk if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes or if you yourself have been diagnosed with prediabetes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune reaction that prohibits your body from creating insulin. This affects 5% of people with diabetes. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not quite as cut and dry as those associated with type 2 or prediabetes. Having a parent or sibling with type 1 makes you more likely to develop it. Transversely, those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are typically children, teens, and young adults.
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes and generally goes away after your baby is born. That said, it increases your child’s risk of obesity as a child and teen. The risk factors for gestational diabetes are different than type 2, type 1, or prediabetes. If you’ve had a previous case of gestational diabetes or if you’ve given birth to a baby over 9 pounds, you are more at risk. Similarly, those with polycystic ovary syndrome, those who are over 25 years old, and those with a family history of type 2 diabetes experience higher rates of gestational diabetes as well.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is raised. Because of this, those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes may not experience these symptoms in the early stages. Alternatively, those with type 1 diabetes tend to experience severe symptoms that come on more quickly. Symptoms commonly associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Blurred Vision
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Frequent infections
- Unexplained weight loss
- Ketones in urine
- Slow-healing sores
Prevention and Treatment
Controlling your blood sugar levels is the main way by which you treat diabetes and prevent complications associated with the disease. While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, treatment is available.
Generally, all of the things that can prevent prediabetes, gestational diabetes, and type 2, are used in conjunction with medication as treatment. Weight reduction by way of a specialized diet and exercise can help those with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. You and your doctor will work together to develop a treatment plan that works best for you and your lifestyle.
National Diabetes Month
If you find that you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with diabetes, visit your doctor. It’s important to take control of your health. For National Diabetes Month, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is working in conjunction with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to focus on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Learn more about the steps you can take to lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke at their website.