November is National Diabetes Month. The American Diabetes Association encourages everyone to use the month to raise awareness about the disease.
More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 of them don’t know they have it. There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant, which can put the pregnancy and baby at risk and lead to type 2 diabetes later). With type 1 diabetes, your body can’t make insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar), so you need to take it every day. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes; about 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Most people with diabetes—9 out of 10—have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. If you have any of the risk factors below, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:
- Being overweight.
- Being 45 years or older.
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week.
- Ever having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can really reduce its impact on your life. What you do every day makes the difference: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, taking medicines if prescribed, and keeping health care appointments to stay on track.
Come back for next week’s article to learn more about preventing and living with diabetes. If you or someone you care for is struggling with diabetes management related to remembering medications, feeling comfortable with activities, having nutritious meals, or other activities of daily living, contact us. Our aides have special training in helping seniors stay on track with diabetes management while they help with all the activities of daily living that keep the home safe, healthy, and comfortable.