According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 29 million Americans — nearly ten percent — have diabetes. But maybe the most surprising statistic is the fact that nearly a third of the people with diabetes don’t even know that they have it, according to government figures. November is National Diabetes Month, so here is some information about diabetes to help give you a better understanding of the disease.
Diabetes is a disease that raises the amount of glucose in the blood to abnormal levels. Our bodies create a hormone called insulin that normally helps distribute glucose to different cells. Diabetes can either prevent your body from creating insulin, or prevent your body from properly using the insulin that it does create. Without insulin distributing glucose, sugars build up in your blood.
Some of the health complications associated with diabetes include blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and in some cases, amputation. Diabetes is a serious disease, and the health problems caused by diabetes can be quite severe. That’s why it’s so alarming that nearly a third of the people in the United States who have diabetes don’t even know that they have diabetes.
There are many different types of diabetes, but the most common are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes makes up 5% of all diabetes cases, while type 2 diabetes makes up 90%-95%.
Some people are more predisposed to develop diabetes than others, but the exact causes are still unknown. However, there are many studies that show that physical activity and a healthy diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. Healthy diet and exercise together are one of the most effective ways to treat type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In some cases, insulin injections are required in addition to healthy living.
Symptoms of diabetes are varied. A person who has diabetes might have some or even none of these common symptoms:
- Drastic changes in vision
- Inexplicable loss in weight
- Extreme thirst or hunger
- Numbness in extremities
- Extreme fatigue
- Slow recovery
- Weak immune system
Again, a person with diabetes could exhibit all of these symptoms, some of them, or none at all. At the same time, having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have diabetes, either. The only real way to tell whether or not you have diabetes is by meeting with a physician. Here’s an infographic from the CDC with more information about diabetes.