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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

diabetes, National Diabetes Awareness Month, American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death and when left uncontrolled it can lead to many serious side effects, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, going blind and nerve damage.

Do you know someone with diabetes? Pause a few seconds and think of those around you.

Maybe one or more of your relatives or friends have the disease. Maybe you have it, or maybe you don't know you have it.

People with diabetes have a shortage of insulin and/or the inability to use insulin. Insulin helps move blood sugar into the cells to use as energy.

According to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet, almost 26 million people in the United States have diabetes. That would be almost nine percent of Americans. The statistics for pre-diabetes are higher yet. In the United States 79 million adults are estimated to have pre-diabetes. Are you among those numbers?

Diabetes cases are on the rise. From 1990 to 2010, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes tripled among adults ages 18 to 79.

About 6.9 percent of North Dakota adults have the disease, according to the 2012 Diabetes Report Card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So what can you do? Start by taking the diabetes risk test. The test is available online at American Diabetes Association: www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/diabetes-risk-test. If you don’t have access to the internet, a paper copy can be obtained by calling the NDSU Extension office at 873-5195.

If you score in the high risk category, share the results with your health care provider and make an appointment to get tested.

According to the American Diabetes Association, some of the factors that may indicate you have diabetes include:

  • Having pre-diabetes.
  • Being age 45 or older.
  • Having a family history of diabetes.
  • Being overweight.
  • Not exercising regularly.
  • Having high blood pressure.
  • Having low HDL, also known as “good” cholesterol and/or high levels of triglycerides
  • Certain racial and ethnic groups (Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives).
  • Women who had gestational diabetes, or who gave birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth.

If you have even one of these risk factors or score slightly lower on the diabetes risk test, you may have pre-diabetes. Your health care provider can diagnose this condition after reviewing certain blood tests.

Some people have Type 1 diabetes, which often appears in childhood or early adulthood. People with Type 1 diabetes manage their disease with insulin injections or other medications and diet.

A growing number of people have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was called "adult onset" diabetes, but today more children are being diagnosed with this form of diabetes. Women may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Sometimes gestational diabetes goes away after the birth of the child.

Don‘t let November go by before you know your risks. Diabetes doesn’t have to be scary. With proper lifestyle changes and treatment you can lead a healthy life.

Source:  Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. North Dakota State University Extension Service and Michigan State University Extension.

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