Each November, National Diabetes Month aims to increase awareness and emphasize the importance of prevention, early diagnosis and appropriate management of diabetes, a group of diseases that develop when the body does not produce enough insulin, is unable to use insulin effectively, or both.
“Diabetes is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, but there are ways to decrease your risk,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “If you exercise, eat right, maintain a healthy weight, avoid tobacco use and have preventive visits with your healthcare provider, you can prevent or delay the onset of the most common type of diabetes.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that without changes in diet and lifestyle, two to three times as many people could be diagnosed with diabetes within 40 years. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in Indiana. During 2015, more than 11 percent of adult Hoosiers were diagnosed with diabetes. That’s a 37 percent increase since 2005.
There are two forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that targets and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin and generally occurs in children and teens, although adults can also develop this form of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is most prevalent in adults but is increasing in younger age groups as more children and teens become overweight. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin and can’t make enough insulin to overcome the resistance.
As a part of National Diabetes Month, World Diabetes Day was observed November 14. This year’s key messages focus on the importance of screening, particularly to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes complications and effectively manage all types of the disease.
Regular checkups and health practices can help prevent complications of diabetes. Individuals are encouraged to:
- Have your eyes checked yearly. Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults. Identifying eye problems and treating them early can reduce risk and help save sight.
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly and see your dentist at least twice a year. People with diabetes are more likely to have problems with their teeth and gums.
- Check your feet daily with a mirror and see your doctor if you find any sores or calluses. People with diabetes are 10 times more likely to have a limb amputated than those without it.
- Protect your kidneys. Ask your doctor to test your microalbumin level every year and ask about taking an “ACE Inhibitor” or “ARB” medication, which can protect kidneys and lower blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight, get exercise and avoid using tobacco.
- Get your blood pressure, cholesterol and lipid levels checked regularly to prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Take a free online assessment to determine your risk at: http://www.diabetes.org/-are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test/.
For more information about diabetes or prediabetes, talk to your doctor or a diabetes educator.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.