November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November 6, 2019

             National Diabetes Month is an annual event each November to boost awareness about the risk factors, symptoms, and types of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar levels are too high. 9.4% of the United States population have diabetes, and it affects 1 in 4 people over the age of 65.

There are three main conditions

            Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable produce insulin, a hormone in the pancreas that breaks down carbohydrates into blood sugar for energy. The immune system attack and destroys pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Many children and young adults suffer from Type 1 diabetes, but it can affect people of any age or background. People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day.

            Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes and occurs when the body is unable to process its internal insulin well enough to keep blood sugar levels normal. Too much glucose stays in the body’s blood and can’t be converted into energy to be used by cells. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese.

            Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women and is typically diagnosed within the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. Usually this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born, but if you have had gestational diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The ABCS of managing diabetes

            Over time high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can damage the body’s blood vessels and the nerves controlling the heart. This leads to higher risks of heart disease and stroke in adults. Managing blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can help prevent the health problems that accompany diabetes.

A is for the A1C test

The A1C test averages the body’s blood sugar levels from the past 3 months. The goal for many people with diabetes is 7% or less. People diagnosed with diabetes should talk with their doctor about what their A1C goal should be.

B is for Blood Pressure

The blood pressure goal is usually below 140/90 mm Hg. Always consult with your doctor on what your personal goals should be for managing diabetes.

C is for Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol in blood, LDL and HDL. LDL cholesterol can build up and clog blood vessels, and too much can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL helps to remove LDL or “bad” cholesterol from blood vessels. Monitoring cholesterol levels is important in managing diabetes.

S is for Stop smoking

Both diabetes and smoking cause the body’s blood vessels to narrow; therefore, it is especially important for those diagnosed with diabetes to quit smoking (this includes e-cigarettes and vaping). Quitting leads to lower risks of heart attack and stroke, better cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and an improvement in blood circulation.

You can manage your diabetes and live a long and healthy life by following your ABCS. Creating a meal plan and making physical activity a part of your daily routine are other ways in which you can manage your diagnosis. For more information on diabetes and managing the disease, visit the website of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease at www.niddk.nih.gov.