The importance of understanding a disease that impacts millions of Americans
November is National Diabetes Month, and a time when we come together across the country not only to raise awareness surrounding diabetes but to highlight the millions of American lives that it impacts.
Each year, National Diabetes Month is given a different focus—and this year’s focus is on promoting health following a gestational diabetes diagnosis. Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops in expectant mothers during their pregnancy. When this develops during pregnancy, it unfortunately also puts both the mother and her children at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes throughout some point in their lives.
Typically, after a mother gives birth, her gestational diabetes goas away, but the overall risk remains. Experts recommend that all who have had gestational diabetes get tested for type 2 diabetes within 12 weeks after their child is born, and every 2 years thereafter if the test comes back as normal.
THE BROADER PICTURE
Although Gestational Diabetes is the focus of this year’s awareness efforts, an overall awareness of the many forms of diabetes is the other consistent focus. As someone who lives with diabetes myself, this topic is one that is very near and dear to my heart. Like many other people, I was unaware that I even had this disease. I visited the doctor because of getting frequent migraines—but they just attributed it to stress and prescribed me medication. After some time I returned to the doctor not feeling well and was ordered bloodwork, which is when they finally discovered that I had been suffering from diabetes all along. For this reason some of my best advice to anyone not feeling well is: ask your physician to do bloodwork.
A SNAPSHOT FROM NIDDK:
- About 30.3 million people in the U.S. or 9.4% of the population have diabetes.
- Around 1 in 4 people with diabetes don’t know that they have the disease.
- It is estimated that 84.1 million Americans aged 18 or older have prediabetes.
- When not properly managed, diabetes (having too much glucose in your blood) can cause heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems and kidney disease.
- You can help to actively manage diabetes.
Locally, Johns Hopkins University offers a course to help educate those diagnosed with diabetes. I attended it myself, and found it to be very helpful. If you have diabetes or have been diagnosed as “pre-diabetic” this is a great opportunity to learn all you can about how to best manage the disease. Find out more and sign up for a class today!
With Thanksgiving coming in just days, it can be especially hard to enjoy holiday meals if diabetic. These Top 5 Diabetic Holiday Recipes from myrecipes are sure to please your taste buds as well as your body. In addition to checking out these recipes, I encourage you to use the professional resources from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to stay aware and actively manage your symptoms in the best way possible. Diabetes is certainly life-altering, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be life-defining.