We all know someone who suffers from diabetes. Whether it is you or a loved one, diabetes has impacted all of our lives in some way at some point. In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, I thought that it would be valuable to shed some light on the chronic condition that affects so many lives everyday.
What is it?
According to the CDC, in the U.S. alone, more than 100 million people are living with diabetes (30.3 million) or pre-diabetes (84.1 million). Diabetes is defined when your body is no longer able to effectively use insulin to get glucose (what your body uses as sugar) into your cells for energy. Instead the sugar remains in your bloodstream in uncontrollable amounts as hyperglycemia (elevated glucose) or hypoglycemia (low glucose). Diabetes is divided into three main types: Gestational, Type 1, and Type 2. Gestational diabetes normally occurs during pregnancy when insulin resistance develops as a result of hormones from the placenta blocking insulin from moving glucose into the cells. Thankfully in most cases, the woman will no longer have diabetes once she gives birth. Type 1 (previously known as “juvenile diabetes”) is the least common type and most initially seen at a young age. With Type 1, your body doesn’t produce ANY insulin; therefore, an individual must be supplemented with insulin therapy forever to help manage their blood sugar. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, which can occur at any age. With Type 2, your body creates insulin, it’s just not enough or improperly used, causing uncontrolled blood sugar.
Thankfully, Type 2 can be reversed with positive lifestyle changes and possibly medication/insulin to keep blood sugar levels manageable. Unfortunately, Type 1 cannot be reversed, but like Type 2, a healthy lifestyle and insulin therapy can keep blood sugar levels in check. This is more than just checking your levels with a home glucometer or popping some magic pills to make it all go away. We’re talking choices such as limiting sweetened, processed, and fried foods, moderate exercise multiple times per week, and talking with your doctor about the right medication regimen that fits you!
Each one of our stories are different. Whether we’ve lost someone we loved due to uncontrolled diabetes or you personally have been newly diagnosed, increasing awareness and prevention methods is everyone’s responsibility to help fight this disease for generations to come.
For more information, visit the American Diabetes Association website.