November is National American Diabetes month. It is a time where an opportunity arises to shine a light on a serious disease that has the potential to be life threatening if not treated correctly. It is one that can lead to complications such as amputation, blindness, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. Diabetes is a disorder that affects the way your body uses food for energy. Normally, the sugar you take in is digested and broken down to a simple sugar, known as glucose. The glucose then circulates in your blood where it waits to enter cells to be used as fuel. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps move the glucose into cells. A healthy pancreas adjusts the amount of insulin based on the level of glucose. But, if you have diabetes, this process breaks down, and blood sugar levels become too high.
There are two types of diabetes that are considered to be full-blown, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
A person with Type 1 diabetes is unable to make any insulin in their body. This type most likely can occur before age 30, but can arise at any age. Although the origins of Type 1 are not fully understood, it may be caused by a genetic disorder. The treatment for a person with Type 1 diabetes is frequent insulin injections.
A person with Type 2 diabetes is able to produce insulin, but their cells have become resistant to it. It usually occurs in adults over the age of 35, but it can affect anyone, including children. A third of American children born in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. The leading risk factor for kids is being overweight, often connected with an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. Once children are overweight, their chances of developing type 2 diabetes more than doubles.
Type 2 is very prevalent in that 95 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 2. Why is this type more prevalent than Type 1? It is because Type 2 is a lifestyle disease. It is brought on by obesity, lack of exercise, age, and in some cases genetic predisposition. Some warning signs for Type 2 diabetes include an increase of thirst accompanied by dry mouth, increased appetite and frequent urination, headaches accompanied by blurred vision. Infections including cuts or sores that are slow to heal, frequent yeast infections, and itchy skin- especially in the groin area.
Diabetes is a disorder that requires self-care and a willingness to take personal responsibility for its control on a daily basis. A diabetic who does this can usually lead a normal life, engage in every day activities, choose nearly any career have a family, and travel.
Every year the American Diabetes Association has used the month of November as an opportunity to spread awareness for diabetes. This year however, they are taking a bolder stance against the disease. Since there are nearly 24 million Americans living with diabetes, and an additional 57 million at risk, they decided that a simple awareness wouldn’t suffice. That is why this year, they are launching a national movement to stop diabetes. Starting with American Diabetes Month, the American Diabetes Association will encourage people across the country to take the pledge to stop diabetes. “Stop Diabetes” will be a movement, an idea that gains momentum one person at a time.
This month is your opportunity to have awareness of this disease. It is only with knowledge of something that we can fully understand it. Hopefully the spread of this epidemic will be managed by the awareness of people all over the country, and one day, the world.
Jenna Shapanski is a fourth-year majoring in English. She can be reaached at JS618186@wcupa.edu.