November Marks National Diabetes Awareness Month

By Ileana Martinez, Registered Dietitian

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This month, people from all over the world come together to bring awareness to all types of diabetes including: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, latent-autoimmune diabetes in Adults (LADA) and prediabetes.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and mortality in the United States.  According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report from last year, 34.2 million Americans have diabetes and 1 in 3 American adults have prediabetes. Shockingly, most people that have prediabetes are unaware they have it.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for about 95 percent of all diabetes cases. It usually affects older adults but the rates of newly diagnosed cases of Type 2 in children and youth continues to rise. You are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if you: have excessive body fat, are 45 years or older, have family history of diabetes or have personal history of gestational diabetes, have a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome, are sedentary and have high blood pressure.

People with prediabetes have up to a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes over the next five to ten years. The exact cause of prediabetes is unknown but research has shown that fat accumulation, particularly in the abdominal area, a poor diet and lack of physical activity are factors that may contribute to its development. Usually there are no symptoms when it comes to prediabetes but some of the early signs of insulin resistance or prediabetes include having dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases (like in the back of the neck or armpits), having skin tags, and changes in vision.

All types of diabetes can cause complications if left untreated. Some people experience no symptoms in the early stages of diabetes, however when glucose levels start raising to higher levels some of the more common symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, numbness in the hands and feet and blurry vision.

Diabetes and its complications can be prevented or delayed through early detection and management. Now that you are familiarized with the first signs and symptoms, you can help spread the word with your friends and family who may not be aware of them. Dietary changes that can help keep blood sugars under control include:

  • replacing sweetened drinks with lower calorie or sugar free options
  • limiting added sugars in foods and drinks
  • limiting intake of highly processed foods and eating a well-balanced diet with protein, fats and fiber from carbohydrates

Legacy has a diabetes health care team, which includes endocrinologists, primary care physicians, registered dietitians, and diabetes care and education specialist who can help you in your diabetes management.  If you are concerned about diabetes, it is important to ask your Legacy provider to guide you into getting the help you need. Call 832-548-5000 to schedule an appointment.