November is National Diabetes Month. 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 a difference: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, taking medicines if prescribed, and keeping health care appointments to stay on track.
Both of my parents were diagnosed with diabetes in their early 50’s. Both were on medication for the remainder of their lives. Had they known more about how to control their condition they could have lived a better quality of life. Mom passed away with Type 2 diabetes complications being one of the causes of her death and dad was insulin dependent(type 1) for the last few years of his life.
More than 30 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 acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy), 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.
9 out of 10 people 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:
Having prediabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes).
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.
Living with diabetes is not complicated but daily constant tracking is what it takes to stay healthy. Eating the right foods, getting plenty of exercise/ staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, taking your prescribed medicine, and monitoring blood sugar levels are what it it takes.Talk to your healthcare provider about seeing a diabetes expert who can give you guidance and support if needed.
Serious health conditions causing diabetes include:
Heart disease and stroke, blindness and eye problems, diabetic retinopathy (damage to blood vessels in the retina), cataracts (clouding of the lens), and glaucoma (increase in fluid pressure in the eye). All of these can result in vision loss.
High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys over time, long before you start to feel bad causing kidney disease.
Amputations losing a foot or leg. Diabetes causes damage to blood vessels and nerves, particularly in the feet, leading to serious, hard-to-treat infections. Amputation may be necessary to keep the infection from spreading.
Stress and any change in your daily routine can affect your blood sugar. Understanding how to stabilize your blood sugar when you are emotionally upset, sick or traveling will help to keep it under control.
Here’s to managing your diabetes for a longer, healthier life.