Diabetes is something that most Americans are very familiar about that it can appear as non-threatening. Fact is, if you don’t have it yourself, then it’s very likely that you have a family member or friend who does. As this month of November is National Diabetes Month, you can ask and check whether you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes and take the necessary steps to prevent its development.
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
There are many types:
Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for about 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 10% of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over.
There are also other specific types of diabetes, which usually results from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses.
Prediabetes, on the other hand, is an elevated blood glucose level that is not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, but is higher than normal. One in three American adults has prediabetes, and most do not even know they have it. Many people with prediabetes who do not lose weight or do moderate physical activity will develop type 2 diabetes within 3 years.
Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations of the foot, toe or leg. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
Currently affecting 26 million Americans, with 19 million people diagnosed and 7 million undiagnosed, diabetes prevention and treatment is a serious matter. An estimated 79 million American adults aged 20 years or older have pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing the disease. Ultimately, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by determining risk factors and making the needed lifestyle changes for you and hopefully for your family.