Today folks, is World Diabetes Day!
November 14th is set aside as the day to educate and inform about this serious disease as it is the the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who was (along with Charles Best) the discoverer of insulin and the co-founder of what is today known as the Canadian Diabetes Association.
People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels, either because their body's insulin production is inadequate, or because their body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. There are three kinds of diabetes:
- type 1/early-onset - this used to be referred to as "juvenile diabetes" - it is a genetic deficiency in the body's ability to use/produce insulin and requires that the patient take insulin injections for life and follow a special diet
- type 2 - this is also sometimes referred to as "adult-onset" as it tends to occur later in life. The patient's body was once able properly produce enough insulin and react to it efficiently, but is no longer able to do so. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed by lifestyle changes as the body can operate more effectively and perform its functions better when we eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and get exercise. However, it can get worse as the patient gets older due to age (and older organs ;-) so blood sugar must be monitored and insulin may need to be taken even if lifestyle changes are made.
- gestational diabetes - this form of diabetes occurs during a woman's pregnancy. Her blood sugar levels were fine before she was expecting, and she typically had no issues with insulin before. During the pregnancy, the body may become unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose to the cells, resulting in rising levels of blood sugar that may or may not require medication. This is tested for regularly in Canada as uncontrolled gestational diabetes can lead to complications during childbirth and a higher birth weight.
Diabetes is all around us: 9 million Canadians and 366 million people world wide are afflicted with it or the precursor condition (pre-diabetes)! Do you know what puts you at risk of diabetes? Do you know the signs you may have it? The dangers of the disease? Here is a little cheat sheet:
- Risk factors:
- family history
- high blood pressure or cholesterol
- gestational diabetes or having a baby over 8lbs
- being of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, or African descent
- Signs of diabetes:
- frequent urination
- frequent thirst
- blurry vision/vision changes
- skin conditions
- light headiness/nausea
- Dangers of diabetes:
- cataracts and other eye complications
- eczema and other skin conditions
- gangrene and other foot complications
- gum disease
- increased risk of infections
- cuts/bruises take longer to heal
- risk of stroke & heart disease
- nerve damage
Pretty alarming, huh? For me, I would be at risk because of family history - my grandmother had it and several members of my blood relations do as well - and, my babies were over 8lbs. My blood pressure can also be wonky. So I will have to watch my weight and activity levels and monitor my blood sugar as I get older to stay on top of things :-) And that is the goal of World Diabetes Day... to educate on the risks and signs so we all know what we need to look out for!
You can support the Canadian Diabetes Association by donating online, or donating to their clothes drive. And, show your support by wearing blue every World Diabetes Day! I know I will :-)