- November is American Diabetes Month. It is a big deal because about 10 percent of people in the U.S. have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 don't know it. When diabetes goes undiagnosed, it can cause other serious health problems.
- Diabetes is a chronic disease caused when the body cannot produce or use insulin efficiently, making it harder to maintain appropriate glucose levels in the blood to produce energy for the body.
- There are different kinds of diabetes. People who have Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin. They must monitor their blood glucose throughout the day, and treat high levels with insulin injections — though an inhalable insulin landed on the market recently. Most cases of diabetes are Type 2 — 90 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — in which the body does not use insulin effectively. This is known as insulin resistance.
- Symptoms of diabetes include blurry vision, increased thirst and frequent urination.
- Not seeking diabetes care can lead to complications such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and even death.
- Early detection and treatment can reduce complications from diabetes and prediabetes, which occurs when your body has blood glucose levels not high enough to indicate diabetes, but above average.
- Once diagnosed, steps can be taken to help manage diabetes. For Type 1, insulin injections, a meal plan with specific carbohydrate levels, exercise and frequent blood glucose monitoring can all help people manage their diabetes. Some people with Type 2 diabetes can manage their blood glucose levels with diet and exercise alone. Others may need medicine that helps increase insulin production, and some may also need insulin injections.
- More information on treatment is available online.
- There are many myths about diabetes and this month is a good time to set them straight.
Myth #1: Diabetes is not a serious disease.
- The monetary costs are also high. Diabetes and its related complications cost America $245 billion in 2012, and its medical costs continue to be more than twice as high for people with diabetes compared to those without, according to ADA.
Myth #2: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.
- Fact: The causes of diabetes are not that simple.