November: Diabetes Awareness Month
Think you know about diabetes?
November is Diabetes Awareness Month! We’ve made it easy for you to check your knowledge about this chronic health condition that is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the US. Learn what action you can take to lower your risk of diabetes, and how to support someone with this illness.
Lifestyle changes with support from doctors and loved ones makes living a full and healthy life with diabetes possible!
So what is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when glucose [sugar] levels in the blood are too high. This is caused by problems with insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter cells.
There are three types of diabetes:
Type I: An autoimmune disorder where the body does not produce insulin.
Type II**: A chronic disease where the body develops a resistance to insulin.
Gestational: Diabetes during pregnancy that usually disappears after the birth of the baby.
**This slideshow focuses on Type II diabetes which accounts for 90% of all cases and is largely preventable with diet and exercise.
How does diabetes affect the body?
Excess sugar in the bloodstream damages blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. The image shows the resulting physical symptoms of this damage.
If left untreated, diabetes can have serious consequences including:
▪ Kidney Disease
▪ Heart Attack
Diabetes by the numbers
Diabetes is the 7th highest cause of death in America. Each year the US spends $245 billion on medical costs and lost work and wages due to diabetes.
29 million Americans currently have diabetes, or 9.3% of the population
1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year
1 in 4 people with diabetes don't know they have it
Do I have diabetes?
There is no single cause of diabetes, but certain risk factors (above) increase your chance of developing diabetes. Some risk factors we can control, and others we cannot.
The only way to know for sure if you have diabetes is through a blood test from your health care provider.
Do these risk factors sound like you? Take the diabetes risk test and start a conversation with your health care provider.
What is pre-diabetes?
86 million Americans have pre-diabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. An estimated 15-30% of people with pre-diabetes will develop type II diabetes in the next 5 years
9 of 10 people with pre-diabetes don't know they have it!
To find out if you have pre-diabetes, ask your health care provider for a blood test
Racial disparities and diabetes
Were you surprised to see ethnicity listed as a risk factor?
Not only do racial and ethnic minorities** have a higher prevalence of diabetes, they are also more likely to experience complications such as heart disease and amputations.
**What's the difference between race and ethnicity? Find the answer in YW Boston's social justice glossary.
Can I reduce my risk?
Some risk factors for diabetes we can't choose like family history, race, or getting older. But there we can make lifestyle changes through improved diet and exercise that lower risk.
Make your game plan to reduce your risk for diabetes!
How can I support someone with diabetes?
There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper management many people can live a long healthy life!
Support them reducing or quitting smoking
Cook healthy meals together
Switch sugary drinks for sugar free options
Accompany them to medical visits
Be mindful of the emotional toll of diabetes