November is National Diabetes Month. This is the month set aside to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans (This article focuses on type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. For information on type 1 diabetes, click HERE.)
What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas makes insulin, which acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body?s cells for use as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn?t make enough insulin or can?t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When this happens, health problems could develop over time, such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease.
Type 2 diabetes by the numbers
- Over 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States
- Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult-onset blindness
- In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the American population has aged and become more overweight
- Medical costs and lost work and wages for people with diabetes totals $245 billion yearly
Who’s at risk?
You’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are overweight
- Are 45 years or older
- Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Aren’t very physically active
There is no cure for diabetes, but that doesn’t mean, if diagnosed with the disease, you can’t live a normal life. A proper diet, along with exercise, can go a long way in managing and maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle.
The Knox County Health Departments offers FREE diabetes management classes year round. Click HERE to see when the next series of classes starts.
If you have the following diabetes symptoms, see your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested:
- If you pee more than usual, especially at night
- Are constantly thirsty
- Lose weight without trying
- Are very hungry
- Have blurry vision
- Have numb or tingling hands or feet
- Feel tired much of the time
- Have very dry skin
- Have sores that heal slowly
- Have more infections than usual
Before a person is diagnosed with diabetes, he might have prediabetes. Prediabetes means a person's sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are on the road to develop type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for serious health problems such as stroke and heart disease. Unfortunately, most people who have prediabetes do not know it. 84 million Americans have prediabetes. Do you? Take the prediabetes risk test in the video below. It only takes a minute.
The good news? Prediabetes can often be reversed through lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and weight loss. The earlier people are diagnosed with prediabetes, the more likely they can reverse it and prevent type 2 diabetes. To learn more about diabetes (type 1 and type 2) and prediabetes, click HERE.