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National Diabetes Awareness Month

The month of November is designated as National Diabetes Awareness Month. It is a great time to increase your knowledge, and awareness, about the causes and the effects that this disease has on millions of people, not just in America, but worldwide.

It is estimated that in the United States alone, there are over 30 million people, adults as well as children, who suffer from diabetes. There are another 86 million Americans who are prediabetic and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on doctors visits, medicines, medical procedures, and other diabetes related health issues. At this time, there is no cure for diabetes so everyone should make it a point to learn about how this very serious disease can be prevented and/or managed.

Diabetes occurs when a person becomes resistant to insulin produced by his or her own body or if the body stops making insulin altogether. This causes the blood sugar (glucose) in the body to spike and remain at a higher than normal level.

Glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain and is an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues of the body. Too much blood sugar can cause serious health problems that can lead to limb amputations and premature death.

There are two types of chronic diabetes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and two types that are potentially reversible, gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: With this type of diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin at all which causes highly elevated levels of glucose in the blood stream. Symptoms include extreme cases of hunger, thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and weight loss. This type of diabetes, at one time called juvenile diabetes, can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, it is thought to be linked to an autoimmune attack in which the body's own immune system destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes: The most common type of diabetes encompassing almost 90 percent of all cases in the world. With this type of diabetes, insulin is produced but the body resists it and doesn't respond to it in a normal fashion. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity or the gaining of excessive weight. The symptoms include infections that takes a long time to heal, blurred vision, numbness in the hands and feet, bladder, gum, and skin infections. Like type 1 diabetes, there is extreme cases of hunger, thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and and sometimes weight loss.

Gestational diabetes: This form of diabetes might occur in some women during the latter half of pregnancy. It usually goes away after the baby is born. The cause is connected with hormones produced by the placenta that interferes with the body's' ability use insulin to maintain healthy glucose levels. This can lead to a variety of problems for the mother and the baby, though the symptoms may not appear until later in life. Women are encouraged to be tested for gestational diabetes between the24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

Prediabetes: Millions of people worldwide are pre-diabetic, or just one step away from developing type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes is potentially reversible, which means that with the right eating habits, exercise regimens, and stress management, it can be controlled or even stopped in it's tracks.

National Diabetes Awareness Month helps raise awareness to this malady that is effecting the health and welfare of people of all ages. Since there is no cure, learning how to recognize symptoms and taking the steps to effectively manage the disease is imperative for those who already have it and for those who are most at risk.

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