November is Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans live with diabetes.

Diabetes affects your body’s response to insulin, a hormone in your body that breaks down glucose. “When your body responds to insulin well, your blood sugar levels stay in a healthy range,” says Avni Jain, MD, a family medicine physician with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group. “If you are diabetic, your body cannot process insulin well and your blood sugar levels spike.”

There are three major types of diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It occurs when your immune system attacks itself by mistake and prevents your body from producing insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It often develops over time from having high blood pressure, living an unhealthy lifestyle or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. It can lead to premature birth, seizures and other serious health problems.

While there is currently no cure for diabetes, it is very treatable. People with diabetes can live long, happy lives if they manage their condition effectively. Here are some ways you can properly manage your condition.

Know your risk

“You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or if you are physically inactive” says Dr. Jain. The American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment can help you determine your risk for type 2 diabetes based on several factors.

Recognize symptoms

Common diabetes symptoms include frequent urination, feeling very thirsty or hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision and cuts/bruises that are slow to heal. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor can help you develop a diabetes management plan that works for you. Early detection and treatment can reduce your risk of serious complications, including blindness, kidney and heart disease or stroke.

Tips for Diabetes Management

  • Know your diabetes ABC’s. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Eat well. Work with your health care team to create a diabetes meal plan. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and salts.
  • Stay active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 times a week.
  • Create a daily plan. This may include taking prescribed medications; checking your feet for cuts, blisters or swelling; keeping track of your blood sugar or checking your blood pressure. Know what you need to do every day to monitor your health.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, The Better Health Channel, and the CDC. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.