Battling DiabetesDo you know someone who has diabetes? Most of us do, even if we aren’t aware of it. It may be your coworker, your cousin or your neighbor. The obesity epidemic has recently pointed a spotlight at type 2 diabetes which can be delayed or even prevented by diet and activity changes or losing weight. But type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, strikes those who haven’t had a chance to make poor food choices, like very young children,¬†or those who are physically active and at normal weight. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the pancreas, ultimately disabling it. Because the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, these people have no alternative but to test their blood with finger pricks several times a day and inject insulin to control their blood glucose level. Diabetes Awareness Month aims to educate us about those who live with this disease every day, 24 hours a day. There is no vacation from diabetes.

Since the discovery and the medical availability of insulin in 1921 lives have been prolonged and diabetics are able to lead more normal lives, but there is still no cure. The treatments have progressed to include continuous glucose monitors that alleviate finger pricks and allow diabetics to more closely monitor glucose levels. Insulin pumps are becoming more mainstream and more common so that diabetics can program the amount of insulin delivered at any given point in time and make adjustments more quickly. But, the ability for these two devices to communicate doesn’t exist yet so diabetics must still track information and program insulin pumps or inject the insulin themselves. Tests and panels to monitor diabetes and blood glucose¬†levels over time, including the fasting glucose test and the hemoglobin A1c test are more readily available and make the disease easier to manage, but it still requires constant monitoring. Keeping glucose levels in a tight range have been found to prevent the more serious complications of diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2: cardiovascular disease, blindness and neuropathy that can lead to amputations. A true artificial pancreas may be a reality in our lifetime, but it’s not here yet! If you are at risk for developing diabetes or are already dealing with the disease, stay on top of your testing and glucose levels. You can either let the disease control you…or you can decide to control it!

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