November is National Diabetes Month. Throughout the month, there is a national push to raise awareness for diabetes, the people it impacts, and how to live well if you are diagnosed with it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 people, or 37.3 million Americans, have diabetes. Many don’t realize that roughly 1 in 5 don’t know they have it.
Diabetes is a lifelong health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. When food is broken down inside your body, most of it is turned into sugar or glucose. Glucose goes into the bloodstream and signals the pancreas to release insulin, which is how your body’s cells use your blood sugar to gain energy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or your body’s cells stop responding to insulin. As a result, your blood sugar remains in your bloodstream.
Understanding Diabetes Types and Risk Factors
You’re probably familiar with the two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
It’s thought that type 1 diabetes results from an autoimmune reaction that stops the body from making insulin. There is no known way to prevent it. Only 5-10% of people with diabetes are type 1. They are typically diagnosed in childhood. Diabetes care for type 1 is the most intensive; patients must take insulin daily to survive. Those at risk of type 1 diabetes usually have a family history of it.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use insulin efficiently and can’t control blood sugar levels. It develops progressively and is often diagnosed in older adults. In many cases, no symptoms are present, and it’s caught by checking blood sugar levels during routine exams, like an annual physical. It can often be prevented or delayed by diet changes, weight loss, and exercise. Those at risk of type 2 diabetes are often overweight, physically active fewer than three times a week, over the age of 45, have a family history of type 2, or are prediabetic.
Prediabetes is a serious health condition also referred to as insulin resistance. It occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than average but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2. It’s estimated that 1 in 3, or about 96 million Americans, are prediabetic. Prediabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes. It typically goes away after giving birth, but it has been linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes for the mother and baby later in life.
Living With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you can take control and live a full life. Start by learning as much as you can about your diabetes type. Build a diabetes healthcare team based on your individual needs. It should include your primary care provider and specialists, like a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator.
Early and consistent management is key to diabetes care, including making sure you have the right health care coverage before speaking with your health professional. Our trusted advisors can help you determine the right coverage. Let’s work together to safeguard your access to the health care you deserve. Call (757) 416-5103, email: Ashley.Williams@