November is Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the CDC, diabetes affects 1 in 10 Americans, or over 37 million people.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where someone has elevated blood sugar (glucose). Over time diabetes can damage multiple parts of the body including kidneys, blood vessels, heart, nerves, and eyes.

There are three main types of diabetes. Let’s look at each one.

  • If you have type 1 diabetes your pancreas makes very little to no insulin. It usually develops in teens to young adults. No one knows how to prevent it. To manage this condition, you must manage your blood sugar, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and have regular doctor appointments.
  • Most Americans with diabetes have type 2. This is known as adult-onset diabetes. Often older adults are impacted by this condition but as obesity increases in children so do the cases of type 2 diabetes in kids.
  • Gestational diabetes is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. It causes high blood sugar that doesn’t just affect a woman’s pregnancy but can also impact an unborn baby’s health. This condition can be maintained often through a healthy lifestyle of exercise and eating healthy. Sometimes medication needs to be used to maintain blood sugar.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

To accurately read your blood sugar, you will be asked to fast prior to doing blood work. Most of the time, patients will schedule blood work first thing in the morning so that they will be able to test their blood sugar after a night of sleep and not eating. A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is considered normal. If your blood sugar level falls between 100 and 125 mg/dL you are considered prediabetic. Once your number reaches 126 mg/dL or higher, you can be diagnosed as diabetic.

What can I do to prevent diabetes?

By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can work to avoid type 2 diabetes. By following a few steps, you set yourself up to be healthier and live a longer life:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Work to lose those extra pounds if you are overweight.
  2. Be active. Exercise can lower your blood sugar.
  3. Focus on eating healthy plant foods. Fruits and veggies should take up a big portion of your diet.
  4. Eat healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and fish.
  5. Skip fad diets. These often provide short-term results and don’t help you to focus on an overall healthy lifestyle.

Your local pharmacies are here to help you on your journey toward a healthy lifestyle. College Park Pharmacy, Howard’s Pharmacy, and P&S Pharmacy are local pharmacies here in East Tennessee. Our team is here to support you. You can stop in for your prescription needs, grab some over-the-counter medications, or obtain your flu shot.