From the Director's Desk: Diabetes Awareness Month - Are you at risk?
Diabetes may be one of the most commonly known and discussed diseases amongst minority communities in the U.S. Although it’s unclear why, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian Americans are at increased risk of developing the disease.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to properly use and store glucose, also called blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of this disease, which occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough or completely resists insulin, a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels. If you are:
- age 45 or older,
- have a family history of diabetes,
- are overweight or obese,
- experience other health problems like high blood pressure,
- have had gestational diabetes or
- are of a specific race (as listed above), you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes, which means their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The good news is that prediabetes can be combated, and type 2 diabetes can either be prevented or its development delayed. This can be done through weight loss if you are overweight, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and maintaining a healthy diet.
If you currently have type 2 diabetes, you can still live a full and fulfilling life by making healthy lifestyle choices that include quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising, taking your prescribed medicines, and managing any pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
As for type 1 diabetes, there is no way to prevent it. Experts believe it is caused by genetics or environmental factors, such as viruses, that may trigger the disease. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system, which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses, attacks and destroys insulin producing cells. The pancreas ultimately stops making insulin as a result.
Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it typically occurs in children and young adults. Those living with type 1 diabetes must take insulin everyday to stay alive; yet, it is still important to lead a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and proper diet to help manage the disease.
To learn more about diabetes, its symptoms and causes, or how to manage it, click here.
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