Thirty-five years ago, The American Diabetes Association (ADA) established “Alert Day” to educate and build awareness around this serious health condition. Diabetes affects millions of Americans each year. This annual event is observed on the fourth Tuesday in March, as a one-day “wake-up call” that focuses on the consequences of diabetes, and the importance of understanding the risks of this common illness.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a long-lasting health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Food is broken down into sugar called glucose, which is then released into the bloodstream to supply the body with energy. When blood sugar rises, it signals the pancreas to release insulin, and insulin assists the glucose to penetrate the cells and supply energy for bodily functions.
Individuals affected with diabetes do not produce enough insulin or cannot use their body’s insulin production normally. Therefore, if excessive sugar stays in the bloodstream, over time this can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease, kidney disease, vascular disease, and loss of vision.
Types of Diabetes
Two types of diabetes exist.
Type 1 diabetes, generally affecting juveniles, can be managed with insulin injections. It requires frequent monitoring of blood sugar with a healthy diet and exercise to keep it controlled. Generally, it requires some form of insulin to control the illness.
Individuals suffering from Type 2 diabetes can generally prevent the disease by making healthy food and lifestyle choices. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and eating a high fiber diet, are the most beneficial ways to prevent complications of the disease.
Education is Power
Although there is not yet a cure for diabetes, education, lifestyle modification and visits to a primary care physician can help avoid the complication of diabetes.
The designated day of observance for diabetic education encourages everyone to learn more about this disease and assist individuals or their loved ones to prevent the complications of diabetes. According to the ADA there are 7.3 million individuals, 1 in 7 adults, who do not know they have diabetes. Awareness is the first step in combating diabetes mellitus.
Keeping health care appointments can reduce the impact of diabetes on one’s life.