|Health Topic of the Month|
November: Diabetes Awareness Month
Diabetes is a disease the affects many people. It's also a disease that continues to grow among the U.S. population. The month of November has been designated as American Diabetes Month in order to raise awareness about all aspects of the disease. How much do you know about diabetes? USFHP wants you to know more! Keep reading for information about the most common types of diabetes, signs and symptoms, risk factors, and additional resources to check out.
You may already know that there are several types of diabetes. By far, the most common is type 2 diabetes (accounting for an estimated 90% to 95% of all diabetes cases). Type 1 diabetes is much less common. It usually happens in children or young adults, but it can appear at any age. Type 1 is estimated to account for only 5% of all diabetes cases. Another type, Gestational diabetes, is first diagnosed in pregnancy. It affects an estimated 2% - 10% of all pregnancies. Most of the time there are no symptoms for gestational diabetes and it usually goes away after pregnancy ends.
So, what is diabetes? Put simply, diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a disease in which glucose (also known as sugar) levels in the blood are above normal. This is the common characteristic among all types of diabetes. Blood glucose levels are high in people with diabetes because the body's ability to produce or use insulin is not working. Whether or not the body isn't producing or using the glucose correctly depends on the type of diabetes.
Insulin is very important for the body. When we eat, our body turns food into glucose, or sugar. Our bodies use this sugar for energy. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport the sugar to the cells of our bodies. When a person's body has trouble making or using insulin, there is no longer a way for the sugar to get to cells. When body cells do not get glucose (either because the body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own very well), sugar builds up in the blood. This can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
How does a person know if they have diabetes? There are a number of signs and symptoms (included in the list below), but, in some cases, people who have diabetes may not experience or notice any of these symptoms. That's why it's so important that everyone over the age of 45 should consider getting tested for diabetes, especially if they have risk factors for the disease.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, visit your primary care provider. Remember, in some cases, people who have diabetes may not experience any of the symptoms below:
List adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Let's talk about risk factors for type 2 since that is the most common form of diabetes. There are certain risk factors that make it more likely that a person will develop type 2 diabetes. These include:
Maintaining a healthy weight, active lifestyle, and eating nutritiously can help prevent diabetes (and a whole host of other health issues). It's estimated that one in three adults have prediabetes, putting them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Someone with prediabetes has a higher than normal blood sugar, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. For those individuals at high risk for type 2, research has shown that it could be delayed and possibly prevented. By losing a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) and being physically active for 30 minutes per day, five days a week, people become less likely to get type 2 diabetes. In addition, healthier eating decreases the risk.
For more information about diabetes, check out the links below!