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American Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects 29.1 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In response, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is working to reduce death and disability related to diabetes, its comorbidities, and improve access to care. Join DPH in American Diabetes Month to help spread awareness about the disease.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar level is too high. This is because their body does not produce or cannot use insulin, a hormone needed to transport sugar from your blood into your cells. Diabetes can exist in many forms, some more common than others.

  • Type 1 diabetes causes the immune system to attack the insulin producing cells. The disease can develop quickly and with little warning, and may be caused by either a virus or genetic issues. While Type 1 diabetes is most common in children, it can manifest itself at any age and makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of those with the disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes develops slowly due to the body’s cells becoming less responsive to insulin. It is the most common type of diabetes, as it affects 90 percent to 95 percent of people with the disease.
  • Gestational diabetes appears during pregnancy and leaves after the birth of the child. Nonetheless, the baby and mother are at an increased risk for developing obesity and type 2 diabetes when they get older.
  • Prediabetes develops when a person has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Reduce Your Risks of Diabetes

While the various forms may be similar, type 2 can be stopped, but type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Here are tips for preventing type 2 diabetes:

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day at least five days each week;
  • Eat nutritious, low-fat food;
  • Get screened routinely; and
  • Reduce your body weight by 5 percent to 10 percent if you are overweight.

Life with Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to complications such as kidney failure and loss of lower limbs. However, diabetes can be controlled with the help of medicine and a healthy lifestyle. Learn how to stay healthy with diabetes by asking your doctors about:

  • Glucose, LDL cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c levels;
  • Eye exams (If you have Medicare, you may be eligible for free eye care);
  • Foot exams; and
  • Urinalysis to make sure that diabetes has not affected your kidneys.

By learning about diabetes and how to prevent and manage it, we can work together to find a cure. For more information about diabetes and what you can do to help, contact Diabetes Prevention and Control.

Have questions or comments? Share below or tweet us @MassGov.

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