34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes. It it a disease so common that 1 in 5 adults in the US don’t know they have it. November is reserved to raise awareness and bring attention to the epidemic. 2021’s focus this month is on prediabetes and preventing it! To prevent it, you must understand what it is. Let’s take a deep dive into this condition.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Your main source of energy is blood glucose that comes from the food you eat. The hormone insulin, made by the pancreas, helps glucose get to your cells to then be used for energy. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin – or any insulin at all – glucose has trouble reaching your cells and stays in your blood instead. This is when complications start to happen.

What are the different types of diabetes?

TYPE 1: Your body doesn’t make insulin. People with Type 1 need to take insulin every day of their lives in order to survive.

TYPE 2: This is the most common type of diabetes. Your body doesn’t make or use insulin correctly.

GESTATIONAL DIABETES: This type develops in pregnant women. Most of the time, this type goes away after the baby is born, but it can also turn into Type 2 diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes are based on blood sugar levels. Some of the most common ones are:

  • frequent urination (especially at night)
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive hunger
  • blurry vision
  • numb or tingly extremities
  • exhaustion
  • dry and itchy skin
  • more infections than usual and slow recoveries (sores, etc.)
  • irritability

There may be more symptoms that some experience and others do not. Everyone’s body is different.

What risk factors increase the likelihood of diabetes?

Some of the risk factors include:

  • being overweight
  • being 45 years or older
  • having direct family members with type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • being physically active less than 3 times a week
  • having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant

How can I reduce the risk of getting diabetes?

Yes. It is possible to reduce the risk of diabetes, however, there is no cure at the moment. If you develop prediabetes and catch it at an early time, you may be able to reverse this before it turns into Type 2 diabetes. Getting regular exercise weekly and eating healthy foods can dramatically reduce your odds of developing it. If you are overweight, losing those extra pounds can help you reduce your risks as well. Getting into the mindset of living a healthy lifestyle will bring many benefits in both, the short and long term.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Your doctor will be able to diagnose you from various blood tests. If you believe you may have diabetes or prediabetes, consult your doctor as soon as possible. This may prevent you from developing life-threatening complications.

If you would like to read more about diabetes, click HERE for more information from the CDC website.

Don’t forget to follow our social media to stay up to date with other nationally recognized days/months, ACP news, job opportunities, and patient stories.