November is National Diabetes Month, and in honor of that, we want to bring into focus the experiences of those affected by this chronic disease. Awareness and understanding are an important part of putting the widespread impact of diabetes into the proper context, and accurate information is key to building a deeper understanding of the unique challenges of living and managing diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and over 2 million (12.5%) of diabetics reside in New York State; this doesn’t take into account the nearly 5.5 million individuals in the state who qualify as pre-diabetic – which means higher than normal glucose levels but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. A more recent report by the CDC puts that number in the 30.3 million range nationwide, which accounts for 9.5% of the US population; there’s a good chance that someone you know is either diabetic or pre-diabetic, especially in New York State, where rates are higher than the national average.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose – more commonly referred to as blood sugar- is too high; this high blood glucose is caused by something called an insulin deficiency. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that helps your body break down glucose in foods, and convert it into energy. For a diabetic, their body is either not producing enough insulin, not using the insulin well (Type 2 Diabetes), or is not producing any insulin at all (Type 1 Diabetes).
Different Type of Diabetes
Diabetes comes in a number of different forms, but for the purposes of this post, we will be focusing on the two most prevalent and chronic types, Type 1 and Type 2:
Symptoms of Diabetes
While these 2 types of diabetes are distinctly different in their causes, symptoms between the two can have some crossover. Some of these common symptoms include:
There is one distinct difference in how symptoms actually appear: in Type 1 Diabetes, symptoms can appear quite suddenly, while in Type 2 Diabetes, symptoms will develop more slowly and progressively, and may not become apparent for years.
Complications from Diabetes
Even with proper care, living with diabetes can lead to a number of complications, including:
If you or a loved one is exhibiting any symptoms of the above listed complications, it’s important to contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
While there is no cure for diabetes, there are options when it comes to treatment and management. Keeping careful watch over your blood sugar levels is an essential part of mitigating some of the negative effects of diabetes, and a combination of insulin, exercise, and a healthy, nutritious diet can help. Healthline has put together an excellent lists of apps that bring a tech-savvy mentality to self-managing in the modern world, which you can find here. To build the best plan for yourself or a loved one, speak to a doctor about the most sensible and effective strategies to meet individual health needs.