American Diabetes Month: What You Need to Know
October 27, 2021
November is American Diabetes Month which provides an opportunity for individuals and communities to come together to learn more about the disease and ways to support loved ones and friends living with diabetes.
Although there are several different types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes account for the majority of cases. As of 2020, it's estimated that Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes affects more than 26 million Americans in the United States. Prediabetes, or high blood glucose levels, a condition that often leads to diabetes type 2 without intervention, affects up to 88 million Americans over the age of 18.
Type 2 diabetes
The two main types of diabetes include type 1 and type 2 with distinctly different causes and management approaches for each type.
Type 2 is far more prevalent, accounting for up to 90 to 95 percent of total diabetes cases, according to the CDC, which has helpful information on diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also more manageable.
Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:
- Family history of the disease
- Excessive weight
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Inactive lifestyle
- High blood pressure
- History of gestational diabetes
Although cases of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults is increasing, the risk of developing the disease increases with age. Hispanics, Asian Americans, Blacks, and American Indians also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
When the body fails to utilize insulin sufficiently, blood sugar levels are prevented from maintaining healthy levels. This condition leads to diabetes type 2, also called adult onset diabetes because it is most often diagnosed in people over the age of 40.
Some common symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Blurry vision
- Tingling in hands or feet
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, most often diagnosed in children and teenagers, causes the body to stop making insulin. There is no known preventative treatment for Diabetes Type 1 and individuals must take insulin daily to survive.
With type 1 diabetes, symptoms develop quickly with the onset of the disease. However, with type 2 diabetes symptoms may be vague and go unnoticed until later stages of the disease. An early diagnosis leads to a much better outcome. By maintaining a healthy diet and being active, the disease is much more manageable. It may even be prevented altogether.
Are you at risk for diabetes?
Despite extensive research, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown, but several risk factors have been identified including some viral illnesses. A family history of diabetes type 1 involving a sibling or parent increases your risk for developing the disease. The presence of autoantibodies that damage the immune system also increases the risk of diabetes type 1.
How you can raise awareness this American Diabetes Month
Participating in American Diabetes Month provides an opportunity to learn more about new treatments and current issues that affect those living with diabetes and some of the difficulties they face. The staggering cost of insulin and supplies needed to manage diabetes, in addition to rising medical costs, means many people are unable to manage diabetes effectively. Here are a few ways you can advocate for diabetes awareness during American Diabetes Month.
- Share information about American Diabetes Month on your social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. You can encourage others to get tested, share their experiences and attend virtual and live events on Nov. 14.
- Participate in a fundraiser sponsored by the American Diabetes Association or any other fundraiser supporting advocacy for diabetes. You can even start your own fundraiser in your local community. Walk-a-thons, church bazaars, and t-shirt sales sporting the blue circle diabetes logo are just a few ideas to raise funds.
- Encourage your co-workers and local businesses in your community to become involved in diabetes advocacy. Distributing informational posters, flyers and stickers requires little effort but creates a huge impact to spread awareness.
- Write to your local state representative and let them know about your concerns with the prohibitive cost of diabetes medications and treatment. Encourage your family, friends and fellow citizens to voice their concerns as well.