Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes? Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease. It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes. Often there are no outward signs of the disease from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day. That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.
This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month: to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.
Diabetes is more than the medications and devices used to manage it. For many, diabetes dictates how they organize their day, what they eat at every meal, how they choose to be physically active and how they spend their money. People with diabetes can have health care costs that are 2.3 times higher than someone without diabetes, as type 1 and type 2 require very specific forms of treatment.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and there is no known way to prevent it. Approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which means their body does not produce any insulin. Insulin is critical in order for the body to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes). Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; others may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults.
Some women develop gestational diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, which requires treatment to protect the health of the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2 percent of pregnant women.
This November, the American Diabetes Association will showcase real-life stories of friends, families and neighbors managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes. Through the use of social media, everyone is invited and encouraged to use #ThisIsDiabetes to share their personal stories and to begin a dialogue about what it means to live with diabetes.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) along with the Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Physician Assistant Board, Medical Board of California, Board of Podiatric Medicine, Board of Optometry and the Board of Pharmacy are proud to help promote the 2016 awareness campaign efforts of the American Diabetes Association.
DCA will run a social media campaign in support of the national awareness effort via Facebook, Twitter and its blog, The DCA Page.
To learn more and view #ThisIsDiabetes stories, check out diabetes.org.