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Five Facts About Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month, a time to focus on this serious health condition, ways to manage it to help prevent potentially life-threatening diabetic complications, and steps to help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Millions of people are affected by diabetes, and approximately one-fourth of them don’t even know it. Currently, about 34.2 million Americans—just over 1 in 10—have diabetes, while another 88 million American adults (1 in 3) have prediabetes.

Health Edco is firmly committed to diabetes patient and student education with our innovative line of diabetes education materials and models that teach the facts about diabetes and the importance of blood glucose control. Check out these five important facts about diabetes, and discover just a few of our engaging diabetes education resources that are perfect to teach the facts about diabetes and why managing diabetes is essential for the prevention of damaging diabetic complications.

Fact No. 1: Type 1 diabetes can develop during adulthood as well as during the child and teen years.

With type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must supply their bodies daily with the insulin they are unable to produce. People with type 2 diabetes, by contrast, don’t make enough insulin or their body’s cells can’t use insulin effectively. Although insulin replacement is sometimes necessary, type 2 diabetes can often be managed with a healthy lifestyle and medication.

Use our Diabetes Education Package to teach about type 1, type 2,
and gestational diabetes and the importance of diabetes management.

Type 1 diabetes was formerly called juvenile diabetes because it was the most common type of diabetes diagnosed in children and teens. Type 2 diabetes was called adult-onset diabetes because it was uncommon in young people. Today, however, a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children and teens has become increasingly common with rising rates of childhood obesity. Likewise, people of any age—even adults over the age of 40—can develop type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually easier to notice in children than adults, making a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in adults potentially more difficult. Most adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight, but adults with type 1 diabetes tend to be lean or at an average weight. Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown and genetic and environmental factors may play a role, diet and lifestyle factors do not cause type 1 diabetes.

Fact No. 2: Having diabetes increases the risk of severe complications from Covid-19.

Having diabetes increases the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus. When diabetes—whether type 1 or type 2—is not well controlled, complications can develop that can worsen the body’s ability to fight a coronavirus infection.

For example, an immune system already weakened by high blood glucose levels can cause inflammation, weakening the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. A coronavirus infection can add even more inflammation to an overtaxed immune system. Diabetes that is not well-managed can also lead to heart and chronic kidney disease, each of which can increase the likelihood of severe coronavirus complications. Covid-19 can raise blood pressure, adding more stress to the body as it tries to fight infection. A coronavirus infection can also increase the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is more likely to occur in people with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when high levels of acids called ketones build up in the blood.

Our Diabetes Consequences 3-D Display includes a heart attack model
and seven other potential health consequences of uncontrolled diabetes.

Fact No. 3: Gestational diabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes for both mother and baby as they get older.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. While a woman is pregnant, hormones can make it more difficult for her cells to use insulin. If the woman is unable to create enough insulin, levels of blood glucose rise, resulting in gestational diabetes. Fortunately, gestational diabetes can be managed with diet, physical activity, and sometimes medication or insulin to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range.

Our Understanding Gestational Diabetes Tear Pad is a great
handout to explain the importance of managing gestational diabetes.

Keeping gestational diabetes under control can help prevent complications for mother and baby during pregnancy and delivery, including having a high-birthweight baby requiring cesarean delivery and breathing problems in the baby and high blood pressure in the mother. Later in life, babies born to mothers who had gestational diabetes are at increased for becoming obese or having type 2 diabetes. Mothers who had gestational diabetes are also at higher risk for developing obesity and type 2 diabetes as they get older. The good news is that eating a healthy diet and being physically active can help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Fact No. 4: Diabetes can be managed to help prevent serious health complications.

Some people believe that diabetes isn’t a serious condition, while others think that, once they are diagnosed with diabetes, they can’t really do anything about it. Both of these views are incorrect: Diabetes is a serious condition, but, when diabetes is carefully managed and blood glucose levels are well-controlled, the risk of life-threatening complications—including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and more—are greatly reduced. People with diabetes should talk to their healthcare professional about their A1C target and how often they should have the A1C test, which measures average blood glucose control for about 3 months. They should keep all routine checkups, eye exams, and dental appointments. People with diabetes should also maintain a healthy diet, get regular physical activity, take medications and insulin as prescribed, and maintain a self-care routine, including checking their feet every day for any injury or swelling.

Our Managing Diabetes Pop-Up Banner gives a quick
overview of the essentials of diabetes management.

Fact No. 5: Prediabetes can be reversed.

Prediabetes is a health condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Having prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other dangerous health conditions, such as heart disease or stroke.

Although 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, there is good news: Prediabetes is reversible! By taking action to control their blood glucose levels, people with prediabetes can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Losing even a modest amount of weight—5 to 7 percent of body weight—and getting regular physical activity can help stop the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Being physically active improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps the body use insulin better.

Discover Health Edco’s Diabetes Education Resources

If you have any questions about diabetes, talk to a diabetes educator or another healthcare professional.

Whether you want to explain the A1C test, show the importance of diabetic foot care, demonstrate diabetic injections, offer education about healthy eating with diabetes, or provide a comprehensive lesson on diabetes, Health Edco has the educational materials and models to reach every patient and student. Learn more by visiting our section dedicated to diabetes education products and models.

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