November: American Diabetes Month

National American Diabetes Month is observed in November in order to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on over 30 million people in America alone. In addition, another 84 million people in the US are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The National Diabetes Education Program’s theme is different every year. This November, the theme is “Managing Diabetes – It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It.”

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way the body regulates blood sugar levels. When this sugar, also known as glucose, can’t enter your cells, the body ends up with chronically high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. The way glucose enters the cell is by insulin. There are type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not make insulin at all. Also, there is type 2 diabetes, where the body makes insulin but the body does not use it effectively or does not produce enough insulin in the blood stream to allow the healthy amount of sugar into the cells. Type 2 is more common than type 1, partially because it results from lifestyle choices such as excessive weight and an inactive lifestyle. When not monitored, diabetes can cause kidney disease, nerve damage, foot complications, strokes, and other serious health conditions.

How Many Americas Suffer From Diabetes?

Almost 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes. Our of that number, 1 out of 4 of diabetics don’t know they have the disease yet. Furthermore, over 80 million have pre-diabetes, which typically leads to type 2 diabetes within five years if not treated. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in 2015. About 5% of people with diabetes suffer from Type 1. People with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin every day to survive. On the other hand, type 2 can be managed through physical activity, insulin, diet, and blood sugar medications.

How Can You Help?

If you were surprised by these numbers, you are not alone. Many Americans underestimate how widespread diabetes is. Raising awareness of these numbers is the key to prevention. Here are some easy ways to spread the word:

  1. Add prevention tips to your social media pages, website, or newsletter
  2. Host events within your community about prevention and management
  3. Donate to American Diabetes Association
  4. Encourage friends and family to ask their doctor about their risk level and get tested
  5. Research opportunities for fundraising events, or create your own within your community

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