November is recognized as National Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes is a serious disease that affects almost every part of your body and can shorten your life. Some complications of diabetes include kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, eye disease, and having to have a leg or foot amputated.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“National Diabetes Month is a time to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control,” stated Belinda Rayner, public health educator with Harnett County Department of Public Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three major types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but it is most often diagnosed in children, teens or young adults. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin. Daily injections of insulin are needed. The exact cause is unknown. Type 2 diabetes makes up most of diabetes cases, approximately 90-95 percent. It most often occurs in adulthood. Many people with Type 2 diabetes do not know they have it. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes usually disappears when a pregnancy is over, however, women with gestational diabetes have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
People who think they might have diabetes must visit a health care provider for diagnosis. They might have some of the following symptoms: Frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, feeling very tired much of the time, very dry skin, sores that are slow to heal, more infections than usual. If you have any of these diabetes symptoms, see your doctor or health care provider.
For more information about diabetes, contact Harnett County Department of Public Health through the health education division at 910-814-6196 or 910-893-7550.