November is National Diabetes Month, a time to raise awareness and learn about this health condition that affects 37.3 million people in the United States. That’s about 11.3% of the people in the country. At Henry J. Austin Health Center (HJAHC), we want to make sure you understand how to take care of your health. Let’s explore what diabetes is, the different types, and what you should know to stay healthy.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body manages glucose, a type of sugar that provides energy to your cells. Our bodies need glucose to function properly, but too much of it in our blood can be harmful. Think of glucose as fuel for your body; it’s like the gas that keeps your car running. However, in cases of diabetes, there’s a problem with how this fuel is used or controlled.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes
- Frequent urination: Do you find yourself making more trips to the bathroom than usual, especially at night?
- Excessive thirst: Are you drinking more water than before, and you still feel thirsty?
- Unexplained weight loss: Have you been losing weight without trying to?
- Fatigue: Do you often feel tired, even after a good night’s sleep?
- Blurry vision: Is your eyesight suddenly not as clear as it used to be?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can perform tests to determine if you have diabetes.
Who is at Risk?
Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can develop diabetes, but some factors increase your risk.:
- Family history: If your close relatives have diabetes, your risk may be higher.
- Obesity: Carrying excess weight, especially around the waist, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Age: As we get older, our risk for type 2 diabetes increases.
- Physical inactivity: Not getting enough exercise can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Understanding the Difference: Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes comes in two main types: type 1 and type 2, and they have some differences.
This type is less common and usually appears in children and young adults. In cases of type 1 diabetes, the human body does not make insulin, a hormone that helps glucose (sugar) enter your cells. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections or an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels for the rest of their life. Currently, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, but technological advancements have made controlling type 1 diabetes much less complicated.
This type is more common and often develops in adults, but it can affect people of any age. In cases of type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly, and over time, it may not make enough. While lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet and exercise, can help manage type 2 diabetes, some people may also need medications.
Can You Get Rid of Diabetes?
While type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition that can’t be cured, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed so well that it goes into remission. This means that with a healthy lifestyle and medications (if prescribed), blood sugar levels can be well-controlled. Follow your healthcare provider’s guidance on managing your diabetes.
What Should People Know About Diabetes?
The most crucial thing to know about diabetes is that you can live a healthy and fulfilling life with the condition. With proper management, which may include medications, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, you can keep your diabetes in check.
National Diabetes Month reminds us to take charge of our health, seek support when needed, and educate ourselves and others about diabetes. It’s a journey we take together, and at Henry J. Austin Health Center, we’re here to support you every step of the way. If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of diabetes, we encourage you to visit www.henryjaustin.org/service or call 609-278-5900 to schedule an appointment and be seen by a provider.