November is National Diabetes Month
National Diabetes Month is observed in November every year in the U.S. The 2019 theme by the National Diabetes Education Program is “Take Diabetes to Heart,” with the partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the idea is to focus on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
This year’s theme raises the awareness of the possibility of developing heart disease for diabetes patients. 1 People with diabetes are twice likely to die from heart disease, stroke, or a heart attack than those without diabetes. Consistently high blood glucose levels over time damage your blood vessels and nerves controlling the heart functions.2
The Prevalence of Diabetes
Did you know that one out of 10 Americans have diabetes? That’s a whopping 30 million people. Another 84 million people have a high chance of developing type 2 diabetes.3 Diabetes causes more than 76,000 deaths every year and is the 7th leading cause of death in America.1
It is a chronic disease with severe consequences even when it is not fatal, as about 12 million people report to the ER every year due to complications that it causes, such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney, and heart problems.2 The worst thing about diabetes is that more than half of people with diabetes are unaware and have not been diagnosed. This leaves them vulnerable to the gradual degradation of their health due to high levels of sugar in their blood. 3
History of the National Diabetes Month
Since diabetes tends to be overlooked, the National Diabetes Education Program named November as the National Diabetes Month. The event has been commemorated every year since 1975. The month is dedicated to promoting awareness of diabetes to the public.
The reason behind designating November as the National Diabetes Month is to increase your awareness on better ways of managing diabetes and lowering chances of being a stroke or a heart patient.
How to reduce your chances of having cardiovascular diseases if you have diabetes
- Have regular tests on your A1C, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Work with your doctor on how to manage them to the correct levels.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow a healthy eating plan, and plan a regular exercise routine.
- Look for activities that will help manage your stress levels. Examples include: walking, running, practicing yoga, gardening, or even listening to your favorite music.
- Follow all the instructions given by your doctor concerning medications.
- Stop smoking or avoid the use of other tobacco products. If you’re struggling with addiction, seek help in rehabilitation centers.
Importance of having a National Diabetes Month
Managing diabetes is not easy. Awareness is vital in managing diabetes and preventing many other secondary life-changing events that diabetes causes, such as heart attacks, amputations, stroke, kidney-related problems, and vision loss.
Every year the chosen theme seeks to create awareness that diabetes can is manageable. Type I diabetes has no cure, but you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels and have a healthy lifestyle. Type II diabetes patients can potentially restrain it through proper diet and exercise. Even though they may still need medication, they may need far less if they take adequate care of themselves.
Taking part in November Diabetes Month brings you to the reality of being in a community with millions of other diabetics. Following on the previous year’s Diabetes Month, you will notice the encouragement from the various themes. Every theme is a reminder that proper nutrition is the primary way of managing diabetes, and it is a constant reminder that to avoid Type II diabetes, you need to maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that type II diabetes can is preventable by making lifestyle changes such as:
- Healthy eating: health care workers should encourage people to eat healthy by making them understand the benefits of healthy eating and having a regular exercise routine.
- Getting regular checkups: checking blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Making small changes: being active by taking the stairs and skip the elevator.
- Losing weight.
Spreading Awareness of the National Diabetes Month
The National Diabetes Education Program holds events and provides resources for those who want to educate others about diabetes on their website. The website has useful posts that can help to publicize the National Diabetes Month on social media. You can get other valuable tools, such as: free posters with cover images for Facebook and Twitter, predesigned posters, flyers, and announcements through the radio or television. The website also has webinars and videos with useful links to educative resources about diabetes. The resources are freely accessible and do not have copyright restrictions for health care professionals or people who seek to use it to educate their communities.
The events run throughout the month to create a diabetics support network. The organizers will always make sure everyone who handles the patients is involved, because they are more aware of the challenges each patient face on a personal level.
Another main recommendation is that people with diabetes assemble a support group that will stand with them as they fight the disease. The support network is to make the work of health professionals easy when handling patients.
If you do not have diabetes, you are encouraged to be part of a support network that shares fact sheets on supporting patients and their family members. They also help diabetic students go through the challenges posed by diabetes in their student life and prepare a guide that makes you be a champion who reaches to a broader community on educating people about diabetes.
Although the National Diabetes Month is in November, it is essential to take care of your health all year long to reduce your risk and spread information on anything related to diabetes to others. With the right support and understanding from the community, managing diabetes is easier. Diabetes management is a daily challenge but worth the effort.