November is National Diabetes Month, and World Diabetes Day is November 14. Both National Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day serve as national and global campaigns to bring awareness to diabetes by promoting healthy living, educating on the risk factors, and allowing individuals with diabetes to share their stories.
Wisconsin Lions Foundation (WLF) is passionate about diabetes awareness. We are celebrating this National Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day by promoting helpful resources to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with this condition and how to prevent it.
Diabetes is a disease affecting how the body uses glucose, a sugar that is an important energy source for the body. The cause of diabetes is an ineffective use or inability to produce enough insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas which regulates the amount of sugar in your blood. When there isn’t enough insulin or when cells stop responding to insulin, too much sugar can build up in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause dangerous complications like vision loss, kidney disease, and heart problems.
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition, usually diagnosed early on in life, while Type 2 diabetes is mainly lifestyle related and develops over time. Both types of diabetes, and those with prediabetes, have many of the same symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss without trying
- Tiredness and weakness
- Irritability or other mood changes
- Blurry vision
- Slow-healing wounds
- Increased infections (gums, skin, etc.)
Diabetes Risk Factors
Certain risk factors can raise your chances of developing diabetes. Family history can increase the risk for all types of diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes.
Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight
- A lack of physical activity
- Other health conditions: Polycystic ovary syndrome, gestational diabetes, dental problems, thyroid disease, etc.
- Having prediabetes: a milder form of diabetes that can eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes
- If you are age 45 years or older
How to Prevent and Manage Diabetes
While Type 1 diabetes is genetic and unavoidable, there are many effective ways to manage the disease and live a normal life. Healthy ways to manage diabetes might include: taking medications as prescribed by a doctor; maintaining a healthy weight; eating a well-balanced diet; participating in physical activity; and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking.
Preventing Type 2 diabetes is also possible with early screening and lifestyle changes. Taking a prediabetes risk test or having your blood sugar levels checked by your doctor are great ways to understand your diabetes risk. If you are at high-risk or if you are prediabetic, it’s possible to lower your risk and reverse prediabetes with small, practical steps. If you want to decrease your risk of developing diabetes, aim to get in at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, set and stick to a weight loss plan, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.
- How to prevent Type 2 diabetes
- Tips for maintaining vision health
- Tips for eating out and choosing healthy foods on holidays
- How to be active with diabetes
- And many more!
Raising Awareness During National Diabetes Month
To join the WLF’s mission to raise awareness on diabetes, encourage your family and friends to take a risk test, either online or with their doctor. Knowing your risk is the first defense in combatting the diabetes epidemic. Continue to raise awareness by educating others on their risk by promoting the stories of those living with diabetes.
One way the WLF is celebrating National Diabetes Day is by giving away a free children’s book, “Year One with Type 1: The True Story of a Boy with Type 1 Diabetes,” by Mike Suarez. This book follows the story of a young boy in his first year living with a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. We encourage Lions Clubs to order this free book and distribute it to local libraries throughout our Wisconsin communities. We hope that providing access to this educational story will raise awareness of managing diabetes and give confidence to many young people dealing with their diagnosis.