Kysha Rooks column: November is a National Diabetes Month

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

By Kysha Rooks
N.C. Cooperative Extension

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the number of people above 65 years who are likely to suffer from diabetes. The United States has made November the national diabetes month to create awareness of the increasing impact of diabetes and the government’s efforts to reduce the burden of diabetes.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have varying effects on ethnic groups and genders in the United States. Thus, national diabetes month gives the public tools to transform the diabetes world.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that affects about 10% of the diabetic population. It is common in children and youths under the age of 30. Type 1 diabetes is genetic and not hereditary. In the United States, Native Americans have the highest number of diabetic patients while Alaska natives have the lowest. Non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans have similar prevalence rates, lower than non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic Americans, who also have similar prevalence rates. Regions with many type 1 diabetes patients have more male diabetics than females, while those with few cases have more female diabetics than males. Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system accidentally attacks the pancreas’ insulin-producing beta cells. Environmental factors like viruses can also trigger the condition. The best preventive way is using insulin injection to replace the hormones the body cannot produce. Another way is insulin infusion via the insulin pump.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease that requires affected victims to change their everyday lifestyles. It occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant, and sugar accumulates in the body. Ninety percent of the diabetic population have type 2 diabetes. It is hereditary, hence inherited from one generation to another. Adults over the age of 65 years mainly experience it. Minority ethnic groups in the United States have a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes than whites. Family history, intake of the wrong food, physical inactivity, obesity, and overweight are the major causes of type 2 diabetes. Taking an appropriate diet and regularly exercising are significant lifestyle changes that help control and prevent type 2 diabetes. Patients can take insulin medication to lower blood sugar whenever the lifestyle changes are not working.

The journey to curb the dehumanizing effects of diabetes continues. The public should support the diabetic community to minimize its effects.
Kysha Rooks is an EFNEP educator and Extension program assistant with the Rowan County Extension.

 

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