November 14 is World Diabetes DayOn November 14th patients and healthcare professionals around the world will raise awareness and observe World Diabetes Day. Because over 34 million Americans have diabetes, there is a good chance that you or someone you know is living with diabetes¹. But what about people who don’t know? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 96 million Americans have prediabetes- and 80% of them don’t know they have it²! Since untreated diabetes can cause permanent health problems, it is important to recognize and treat this serious disease. What can you do? We’re glad you asked! Observe World Diabetes Day and raise awareness by sharing information about diabetes.
So, what is diabetes exactly? And what causes it? Let’s start with insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It regulates blood glucose, or blood sugar, and helps the body use sugar for energy. When the body can’t produce or effectively use insulin, this leads to high blood glucose levels, or diabetes. Diabetes has three forms: type 1, type 2, and gestational.
Type 1Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It isn’t preventable or reversible. In type 1 diabetes, the body no longer produces insulin. Although this condition is often present at birth, it can also develop over time if the body’s ability to produce insulin declines.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In fact, 90-95% of cases are type 2². This form of diabetes develops over time. In type 2 diabetes, the body can’t produce enough or effectively use insulin. Healthy diet, exercise, and weight management can help prevent or control type 2 diabetes. The developing stage of type 2 diabetes is called prediabetes, which is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. While this condition increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, gestational diabetes often goes away on its own after delivery.
PrediabetesAlthough prediabetes is a reversible condition, most cases will develop into type 2 diabetes within 5-6 years³. Lifestyle changes such as healthy diet, exercise, and weight management can prevent prediabetes from worsening into type 2 diabetes. Remember- 80% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have the condition². Getting a blood sugar test can help diagnose prediabetes and help prevent type 2 diabetes. The National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes that prevent or control diabetes.
Symptoms of DiabetesSymptoms of diabetes can include:
- Being very thirsty or hungry
- Feeling tired
- Dry skin
- Frequent urination
- Frequent infections
- Blurry vision
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
- Sores that heal very slowly
Testing for DiabetesTesting for diabetes is easy! In most cases, a simple blood test is all that is needed. There are several types of blood tests that can help diagnose diabetes.
- Random blood sugar test, which checks blood sugar at any time of the day
- Fasting blood sugar test, which checks blood sugar after an overnight fast (not eating)
- A1C test, which is a single blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months
- Glucose tolerance test, which measures blood sugar before and 2-3 times after the consumption of glucose
State of Diabetes in PennsylvaniaDiabetes is a big problem in Pennsylvania. Here are some quick facts about diabetes in Pennsylvania¹:
- 11.1% of all adults have diabetes, which is over 1 million people
- 30,000 people have diabetes but don’t know it
- In some PA counties, 20% of all adults are living with diabetes
- 34.1% of adults have prediabetes, which is over 3.4 million people
Be Aware of How Diabetes Affects YouObserve World Diabetes Day this November 14th and raise awareness of diabetes. Share information about diabetes with your friends and family. Diabetes and prediabetes silently affect a significant number of people. Prediabetes is a reversible condition. With lifestyle changes, diabetes can be prevented, or its severity can be reduced. Raising awareness of this condition can help identify, prevent, and treat diabetes. Speak to your healthcare provider and get tested for diabetes today! A simple blood test can help assess your risk, allowing you to take control of your health. And don’t forget- HNL Lab Medicine Patient Service Centers offer convenient and accessible options for completing your lab work.
¹American Diabetes Association. (2021, October). The burden of diabetes in Pennsylvania. https://diabetes.org/sites/default/files/2021-11/ADV_2021_State_Fact_sheets_Pennsylvania_rev.pdf
²Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, October 20). Diabetes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html.
³Pennsyvania Department of Health. (2022). Diabetes. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Diabetes.aspx.