Take Charge of Your Diabetes during National Diabetes Month

Take Charge of Your Diabetes during National Diabetes Month
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November 06, 2015

If you've been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, November is a good time to get serious about your health.

As part of National Diabetes Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing tips and information to help those with the disease live a longer, healthier life.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). It's important to know that there are major differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Those who have type 1 diabetes, once called juvenile or insulin-dependent diabetes, need to take insulin every day because their body doesn't produce it on its own. Type 1 diabetics must constantly monitor their blood sugar levels. There is no known cause and no way to prevent or cure type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. About 5 percent of the people who have diabetes have this type.

People with type 2 diabetes are not always insulin dependent because their body can still produce it naturally, it's just not enough or not used well by the body. Most people with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed after age 40, but children are also being diagnosed in increasing numbers. While there are some genetic factors that make one more predisposed to develop type 2 diabetes, the disease is largely preventable by living a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. The vast majority of Americans living with diabetes have this type.

There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood that you will develop type 2 diabetes. Those who are overweight and live sedentary lifestyles are at higher risk, as well as those who have a parent or sibling with the disease. For women, having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds also increases the risk. Generally, being over 45 years old can be considered a risk factor, but as we said before, more and more children and being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Those who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can lessen the chances of problems in the future by managing food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels throughout the day. Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables and being physically active every day can help to dramatically improve your health. You should be diligent with any medication prescribed by your doctor and managing blood sugar regularly will also help you keep everything on track.

If you have many of the risk factors for being diabetic, but haven't been diagnosed, it's possible you may be prediabetic. About 86 million people have prediabetes and 90 percent of those people don't know it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Without lifestyle changes, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. This can be prevented by eating better and getting more physical activity.

For more information on diabetes, visit the CDC website.