November is American Diabetes Month – a time to educate people about the risks and truths of diabetes. There are many misconceptions when it comes to diabetes, and while it affects millions of people around the world, education could be one thing that helps prevent it. Here are some basics on diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body either produces too much insulin, or doesn’t produce enough. The blood sugar levels aren’t controlled, and this issue can cascade into different problems in how the body functions. There are a few different types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. While each carries different risk factors and affects the body differently, each is serious. Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is more preventable than Type I.

Who is Effected?

While diabetes tends to strike those who are older, pregnant, overweight, and or genetically predisposed to the disease, it is important for everyone to understand what behaviors can lead to diabetes developing. There are a lot of controllable and uncontrollable risk factors, such as diet, exercise, family history, race, etc. Many of the risk factors for diabetes are the same for heart attack and stroke.

How to Live With Diabetes

The NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease) recommends these 4 steps to manage your diabetes:

Learn about diabetes: educate yourself on the disease so you know what can happen, what to expect, and how to plan. There are classes and resources to teach yourself everything you need to know.

Know diabetes ABCs: A1C – the A1C test measures your blood sugar levels and is one of the most important tests for a diabetic, Blood Pressure – blood pressure is important to monitor because it can indicate how hard your heart is working, and Cholesterol – cholesterol can help or hurt your heart, and it is important to know which does what.

Learn how to cope by eating healthy and changing your lifestyle: making conscious choices every time you put something in your body can make the difference between living comfortably with diabetes or not. Adding exercise into your daily routine can help reverse some of the negative effects of diabetes, and prevent the disease from escalating.  

Get routine care: much like when you have any other life-threatening disease, it is important to see your doctor and healthcare professionals regularly.

Ways to Help

Aside from volunteering, it is important to educate yourself on diabetes so you can better sympathize with people suffering from this disease. You can help raise awareness this way as well. Living with diabetes can be a difficult disease to live with, and it is important to be able to support those individuals suffering from it.