American Diabetes Month awareness

  • Published
  • By Marilyn Leggett
  • Civilian Health Promotion Services
According to the American Diabetes Association, someone is diagnosed with this serious disease every 20 seconds.

Diabetes is a serious illness in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play a part.

Complications from diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation can be life-threatening. Currently almost 26 million children and adults live with diabetes, approximately 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Diabetes Education Program. If current trends continue, one out of every three children born today may develop diabetes.

Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type-two diabetes. In this type, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not respond to insulin. Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type-two diabetes.

Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless and may include: Frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss or gain, increased fatigue, irritability, and blurred vision.

According to NDEP, diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower their risk of complications. The best approach is prevention, for quality of life and to decrease the $174 billion dollars spent annually for diabetes care and treatment.

Typically, November ushers in the "holiday season" with parties and delectable treats in abundance. This holiday season may be the time to consider small changes that may help you prevent diabetes; the New Year isn't far away and you may be a step or two ahead in incorporating some healthy resolutions.

The basics of diabetes prevention are simple; move more and make healthy food choices. According to NDEP, people at high risk for type-two diabetes may prevent or delay the disease if they lose as little as 10 pounds by walking 30 minutes a day and making healthy food choices.

Remember, ask your primary care provider about the risk for type-two diabetes, make healthy food choices and reduce the amount you eat. Get 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week and, if needed, lose a modest amount of weight. For more, log on to or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at . At Eglin, contact Civilian Health Promotion Services, 883-8024, or the Health and Wellness Center, 883-8022, for resources.