November is American Diabetes Month, a time to recognize how important it is for people with diabetes and their families to take care of their health. Diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise, but also requires constant vigilance in order to avoid complications like heart disease or blindness. Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body produces or uses insulin, which is a hormone that your pancreas (a gland near your stomach) makes when you eat food. People with diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or their bodies can’t use it well. That means they have too much sugar in their blood after eating, which can lead to serious health problems like heart disease and kidney failure. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 34.2 million people have diabetes (10.5% of the US population).
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that affects people of every race, gender and size. It can be difficult to live with when you’re not sure what the future holds but there are resources for everything from self-care tips in case things get tough to find out how different diet options affect blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses insulin. The most common form, it means you cannot control blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise alone; in some cases, medication or insulin will be needed to help manage them.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that you can manage with the help of your doctor. It doesn’t mean you had it before or will have it after giving birth, but knowing how to stay healthy during pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby is worth the extra effort.
Common risk factors
- Are 45 or older
- Are Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander
- Have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
- Are overweight
- Are physically inactive
- Have high blood pressure or take medicine for high blood pressure
- Have low HDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides
- Had diabetes during pregnancy
- Have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
Diabetes is a serious condition that impacts millions of people across the world. It’s important to be aware and learn how it can affect you or someone you love.