November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a great time for those who don't understand the disease to learn more about it and even be tested for it. The fact that an entire month is devoted to raising awareness about diabetes emphasizes the need for widespread education. Sadly, it is estimated that over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and approximately 25% of them don't know it.
Diabetes Awareness Month seeks to educate people about both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is a chronic autoimmune disease that is neither preventable nor curable. With Type 1 diabetes, the body can't make its own insulin and the sugar in the blood can't be regulated, potentially causing serious damage to organ systems. Daily insulin injections are required to regulate the blood sugar. Mary Tyler Moore suffered from Type 1 diabetes, as do Nick Jonas and Jay Cutler.
Type 2 diabetes is more common, and mainly develops due to the types of food a person eats. With Type 2, the body can't make enough insulin or can't use it properly, and like with Type 1, can lead to serious organ damage. Fortunately, this type of diabetes can be managed and even prevented.
There are certain risk factors to be aware of regarding Type 2 diabetes, including being overweight and physically inactive. Some people are genetically predisposed to it. Type 2 diabetes can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Symptoms to watch for include increases in hunger, thirst, and urination; feeling tired and having blurred vision; feeling numbness or tingling in the feet or hands; and experiencing unexplained weight loss. Some people exhibit no symptoms; for those that do, the symptoms can develop slowly and be mild, making them difficult to notice.
If you think you may have diabetes, it's important to be tested. As with any disease, early detection can lead to a better outcome.
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