November is National Diabetes Month, a time for communities across the country to work together and raise awareness for diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. Over 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes, and 1 in 4 don’t know. Most of us have heard of the disease and may even have some familiarity with what it is, but there are many misconceptions about the different types, causes and prevention and treatment measures. And unless we live with diabetes every day or know someone who does, we may not understand how challenging managing diabetic pain can be. Let’s explore more about this chronic disease, steps we can all take to lower our risk for type 2 and gestational diabetes and debunk common myths.
- Type 1 diabetes is an incurable autoimmune disease, but it is treatable.
- Type 2 diabetes develops when your body doesn’t use insulin well, but can often be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes.
- Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes and usually goes away after the baby is born but increases the risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease.
- Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose). That sugar comes from carbohydrates in the food you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use.
- If your body fails to make enough insulin (or fully utilize it), sugar builds up in your blood.
- Having too much sugar in your blood for long periods of time can cause serious health problems like damaging the vessels that supply blood to vital organs.
Awareness initiatives such as National Diabetes Month are vital to public health. They emphasize the need for getting a proper diagnosis, establishing a treatment plan, considering lifestyle changes, managing diabetic pain, protecting yourself from dangerous complications commonly associated with the disease.
For example, if your body isn’t producing enough insulin and sugar remains in your blood, then it’s not being delivered to your body’s cells for energy. If you don’t have enough insulin, your body will begin using fat for energy since it doesn’t have glucose. This process releases chemicals called ketones into your blood and they can cause your blood to become acidic.
Too much acid in the blood throws off the body’s chemical balance. It’s particularly dangerous for people with diabetes. This condition is called diabetic ketoacidosis and can lead to coma or death. Luckily, it’s treatable with an insulin therapy plan, but this is why people with diabetes can’t shirk management of the disease, even when they’re on vacation or sick with the flu. It’s a life-changing diagnosis.
Facing diabetic nerve pain
Even if people with the disease are diligent about their insulin therapy, they still face the challenges that often come with managing diabetic pain and facing other symptoms like diabetic neuropathy that causes nerve pain all over your body. There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, but peripheral neuropathy is the most common. This is the result of nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels and it usually affects the feet and legs.