November is American Diabetes Month

By DeDe Hausmann

While doing research for this blog, I was astounded to learn (via the American Diabetes Association website) that almost 26 MILLION kids and adults in the USA are living with diabetes AND there’s another 79 MILLION that are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  So what’s the difference between type 1 and type 2 and why are so many of us developing type 2 Diabetes?

TYPE 1 DIABETES (10% of US diabetic cases) is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces very little or no insulin.  Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar glucose to travel to our bodies’ cells to produce energy.  A person can get type 1 via genetics or exposure to certain viruses and it can develop at any age.  There’s no cure for it but it can be managed.  Tell-tale signs include: increased thirst and having to go to the bathroom often, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.  Type 1 diabetics require daily insulin treatment to sustain life.

TYPE 2 DIABETES (almost 90% of US cases) is the most common form of diabetes.  People with type 2 produce insulin but the pancreas doesn’t make enough of it OR the body doesn’t use it well so glucose can’t get to cells to provide energy for daily activities.  Glucose builds up in the blood causing an increase in urination ==kidneys lose glucose through urine which causes dehydration and if a person gets too dehydrated, they can go into a diabetic coma, a life-threatening condition.  Damage to the body can also include damage to nerves and the small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart which can lead to hardening of large arteries that can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Type 2 diabetes is taking a devastating toll on our country physically, emotionally and financially.  It kills more people yearly than breast cancer and AIDS combined yet many Americans don’t recognize that they can prevent it.  Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled via diet, weight loss, exercise and oral meds.   More than half of those with type 2 diabetes require insulin at some time during the course of their illness.

So how can one prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring?  It’s the same health/wellness story we’ve heard for years: get one’s weight under control and increase physical activity!! 

National Dairy Council and the NFL have developed Fuel Up to Play 60, a school wellness program to help our youth learn to eat healthy (via all 5 food groups) and to work towards getting 60 minutes of physical activity daily.  Healthy kids should lead to healthy adults!!!

Let’s all learn to eat more healthy (watch those portion sizes) and to enjoy physical activity.  We’ve got to reverse this trend towards more type 2 diabetic cases and we can do it!!!  

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