National Diabetes Month is observed every November in an effort to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose or blood sugar is too high. Eventually, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease.
According to the NIDDK, (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases) It is estimated that 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population have diabetes. About one in four people with the disease don’t know that they have it. According to estimates, 84.1 million Americans aged 18 or older have pre diabetes. The theme this year of the National Diabetes Education Program is “Managing Diabetes – It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It”. The theme shows the importance of managing diabetes to prevent health problems associated with the disease and also reminds those who struggle with diabetes that they are not alone.
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 prevents your body from making insulin, which I a hormone that lets blood sugar into cells for use as energy, so people with this type of disease need to take insulin every day. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of the disease; with this type of the illness, the body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. Gestational diabetes involves having diabetes while pregnant, which can put the mother and baby at risk and lead to type 2 diabetes later.
Type 2 risk factors include:
- Having pre diabetes (blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes yet)
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having had gestational diabetes or having given birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds.
In addition, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
There are steps you can take to lower your risk of getting diabetes, such as the following:
- Lose weight and keep it off.
- Try to lose 5-7 pounds of your starting weight. Move, move, move!
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.
- Eat healthy foods the majority of the time.
- Eat smaller portions and choose foods with less fat content.
- Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.
To participate in promoting National Diabetes Month, you can encourage those with the disease by reminding them they are the most important member of their care team and that they should seek support from health professionals, friends, and family to help manage their diabetes. You can also help to create new programs and improve existing ones on managing and preventing diabetes. Share information on social media as well.
Lastly, check into the medication management program offered by MedCareComplete to help members and their families suffering from chronic or poly-chronic conditions. This program offers a home delivery service for medications for those who take four or more medicines a day.