More than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they even have it. That’s 7.4 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Let that sink in for a minute.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.4 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
If someone has diabetes, there is a good chance that they have Type 2 since only 5 percent of cases are Type 1 diabetes. The Type 2 variety affects how your body uses sugar (glucose) for energy. It stops the body from using insulin properly, which can lead to high levels of blood sugar if not treated. Over time, Type 2 diabetes can cause serious damage to the body, especially nerves and blood vessels.
Type 1 diabetes is something someone is usually born with. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin, according to Montefiore Einstein.
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can be mild. They include:
• Excessive urination
• Very thirsty
• Lose weight suddenly
• Very hungry
• Blurry vision
• Very tired
• Dry skin
The age group most affected by Type 2 diabetes is 65 and older, according to Montefiore Einstein. That has been the impetus for making November National Diabetes Awareness Month.
Early diagnosis is important to prevent the worst effects of type 2 diabetes. The best way to detect diabetes early is to get regular check-ups and blood tests with a healthcare provider, according to the World Health Organization.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:
• Reach, keep a healthy body weight
• Stay physically active with at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day
• Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar and saturated fat
• Not smoke tobacco.
Some people with Type 2 diabetes will need to take medicines to help manage their blood sugar levels. These can include insulin injections or other medicines. Some examples include metformin, sulfonylureas and sodium-glucose co-transporters Type 2 inhibitors, according to the WHO.
The disease can lead to foot ulcers, kidney disease and blindness. That’s why diabetics need to have annual medical check-ups.
Locally, Montefiore Health System sets aside November to remind people of the dangers of diabetes, specifically Type 2, as part of National Diabetes Awareness Month.
The medical center even has a center devoted to diabetes care. And it has a calendar of events geared to awareness this month. Visit montefior.org/diabetes-month-events