Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. More than 100 million Americans are living with a form of diabetes. This includes 30.3 million people who have type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes, and 84.1 million with prediabetes.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes, the most common type, include having prediabetes, being overweight, having a family history, being physically inactive, and being 45 or older.
Learning more about your diabetes and following your care plan can greatly reduce your chance of developing complications, including:
- Eye problems that can lead to blindness
- Nerve damage, which can lead to infections and/or amputations
- Kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure and dialysis
- High blood pressure, which can contribute to heart attack and strokes
- Stroke and heart disease (two out of three people with diabetes may die of heart disease or stroke)
- Skin complications and increased risk of infections
- Ketoacidosis, which are high levels of ketones that can poison the body
- Pregnancy issues (increased monitoring is necessary to prevent complications
What can you do?
You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by losing weight (if needed), eating healthy, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and consistently being active. Your doctor can guide you in the lifestyle changes you’ll need to take.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, working with a diabetes educator is important. Diabetes educators offer Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) services that help people with diabetes learn how to take the best care of themselves. Ask your doctor for a referral to DSMES services to help you manage your diabetes and stay healthy.