November is National Diabetes Month, and while you may not have diabetes, chances are, you know someone who does. One in 10 Americans suffer with diabetes and one in three are prediabetic, according to the CDC. These statistics are staggering so it is not surprising that Medical News Today reported that diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of American deaths.

With numbers like these, it is important to know the facts so you can recognize, treat, and possibly prevent diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar in that they do not discriminate. Diabetes can develop at any age, to any gender or race and people of all sizes and shapes. Unfortunately, having diabetes can lead to other serious health problems including blindness, heart disease and stroke.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin, which helps control blood glucose levels. To help manage this, prescription medications, including insulin shots, are necessary. For Type 1 diabetics, self-monitoring blood glucose levels becomes a regular part of life. Despite vigorous research, there is no known reason Type 1 diabetes occurs and surprisingly, only 10% of diabetics account for type 1. While dietary changes and healthy lifestyle habits are helpful, Type 1 diabetes currently has no cure. 

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not producing or using insulin well enough. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 can be delayed or even prevented. Most people have prediabetes before Type 2 which can be reversed with nutrition changes, increasing exercise and quitting smoking.

At-risk factors include genetics, age, having gestational (during pregnancy) diabetes, and being overweight. Common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include extreme thirst and fatigue, blurry vision and tingling or numbness in hands and feet.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes can make all the difference in your health. A growing epidemic, every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed and Type 2 accounts for 90% of those. Take steps now to decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by shedding excess weight, exercising, choosing better foods, and getting an annual physical.  

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Photo: Insulin level test conducted by an emergency medical techinician