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Everything You Need to Know about Diabetes

November 20, 2020
Published in: Diabetes

Senior looking at a pill bottle at the doctors' office

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. It's the perfect time to review the most common types of diabetes, general statistics, and current research surrounding the growing prevalence of early onset Type 2 Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes the one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Did you know one in 10 individuals have diabetes in the United States? Additionally, one in five individuals does not even know they have diabetes. Normally, when you eat a meal, it is broken down into glucose (sugar). That glucose enters your blood, and this signals the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin acts as a key to let the glucose into your cells, and then glucose is then used by the cells for energy. If you have diabetes, your body either resists insulin or does not make enough of it. Therefore, the glucose builds up in your blood stream instead of being used for energy. The most common types of Diabetes include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is less common than Type 2. This type of Diabetes develops as a result of an autoimmune reaction where the immune system attacks insulin producing cells of the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas either does not make any insulin or makes only a small amount. Type 1 Diabetes is more common in children, but anyone can develop this disease at any stage of life. Management for Type 1 Diabetes includes checking your blood sugar, taking insulin, and living a healthy lifestyle.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Approximately 90-95% of Americans with Diabetes have Type 2. It most commonly develops in individuals over the age of 45 but is becoming more prevalent in younger adults and even teens and children. Type 2 Diabetes develops as a result of insulin resistance, where the pancreas cannot keep up with the increased need for insulin. Management for Type 2 Diabetes includes eating healthy, staying physically active, testing your blood sugar, and possibly taking oral medications or even insulin.

Growing Prevalence of Early-onset Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes used to be referred to as adult-onset Diabetes because it developed most commonly in adults over the age of 40. In recent years, the prevalence of adolescents and young adults with Type 2 has increased dramatically. It is estimated that the number of individuals under the age of 40 with Type 2 Diabetes increased by 31% in the United States between 2001 and 2009. So, why has there been an increase? The major predisposing risk factors for developing early-onset Type 2 include obesity, family history, and sedentary lifestyle. With obesity still on the rise, it's not surprising that the prevalence has increased. Additionally, research has shown that developing Type 2 Diabetes at a younger age is associated with premature development of complications. These complications include diabetic kidney disease, retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, and risk of premature decline in cognitive function. It is estimated by the American Diabetes Association that at this current rate, the number of people under the age of 20 with Type 2 Diabetes could increase by up to 49% by 2050. For this reason, greater emphasis is needed on prevention programs for at risk individuals.

Augusta Health Diabetes & Nutrition Self-Management Education Program is an authorized provider for the CDC Diabetes Prevention Program. Call (540) 213-2538 for more information about the program or Diabetes.