Every 17 seconds, one American is diagnosed with diabetes. With almost 26 million currently living with diabetes in this country, it is time to bring awareness to this often life-changing disease. And change is what it will take to put a stop to what amounts to a runaway train.
With obesity and poor eating habits, comes an increase in diabetes, which kills more people each year that breast cancer and AIDS combine. It is at its most dangerous when it is undiagnosed or untreated, and with an estimated 79 million at risk for diabetes, the need to educate about this “silent killer” is stronger than ever.
Diabetes is defines as a lack of production or improper use of the hormone insulin within the body. Insulin is the body’s natural sugar, starch and other foods converter because it breaks down the food you eat into energy so you can burn it off. Even though there are large risk factors that can lead to diabetes: obesity, low thyroid levels, low activity rate, pregnancy, etc, doctors have yet to pinpoint an actual cause.
Both children and adults can suffer from this disease and about 18 million people have already been diagnosed. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, you could have a high-risk lifestyle that puts your blood sugar levels at a dangerous possibility of getting the disease in the future. If you or someone you know thinks they might be at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes, you can take the American Diabetes Association’s online test.
There are a few subsets of diabetes that people should be aware of. Pre-diabetes is when a person’s glucose—simple sugar carbohydrates in your body—levels are higher than normal but have yet to signify Type II of the disease. Pre-diabetes can be identified by your health care provider by using one of two tests.
Type 1 diabetes means that the body is failing to produce insulin within your body or has already stopped producing it. Five to ten percent of diabetes patients have this type and it is usually diagnosed during childhood.
Type 2 diabetes is more common and occurs when insulin is being produced but the body isn’t using it naturally or when there isn’t enough insulin being made. Gestational diabetes is contracted during pregnancy and in some cases after birth some women are diagnosed with Type 2.
Living with diabetes can be tough and may contribute to the onset of other health problems. It also requires a special diet and an exercise regimen to help keep it in check. As you age with diabetes, if it isn’t controlled properly or you respond carelessly, there is a greater risk for certain complications, such as kidney damage, amputation of one or both legs, heart disease, and blindness.
November is not only American Diabetes Month but it is also Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes or thinks they may be at risk should be aware that it is recommended to make regular ophthalmology appointments.
Most people equate November with Thanksgiving and that usually means spending time with loved ones over huge amounts of food. If you or a loved one has diabetes or is at a high risk for the disease this should be a reminder to take it slow, don’t eat too much pumpkin pie, and be sure to get in some exercise because we want diabetes statistics to be going down not up.