Now that November is upon us it is the perfect time to discuss just what is national diabetes awareness month.
Well, to put it simply, it is a time when all across the country communities come together to bring awareness to diabetes and take action to tackle this modern diabetes epidemic.
Yes, I said epidemic because quite frankly that is what it is.
More and more people are diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes every day.
The recent COVID-19 global pandemic has created even more urgency because diabetics are at greater risk of developing more serious complications such as pneumonia and they are almost 3 times more likely to die in hospital.
Did you know that one in three Canadians has diabetes and that by age 20 you have a 50% chance of developing diabetes?
That is staggering and is the reason I referred to diabetes as an epidemic across Canada and globally.
We are fast approaching 2021 which brings us to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.
As a nation, Canada can’t afford to ignore the impact of this chronic disease on individuals, families, communities, our healthcare system, and our economy.
We need to spread awareness, educate the public, find a cure, and put an end to diabetes in our homes, communities, country, and the world.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month
I have become absorbed in learning about diabetes ever since our grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in June 2019. He was 4-years-old at the time. I will never forget that day as long as I live.
Getting that call from our daughter stating they were at the hospital with Alex and he had just been diagnosed.
To say that day was life-changing for our whole family is a vast understatement.
We are just one family of millions who are affected every day by diabetes.
It forever changes the way you do everything.
Seriously, you can’t just decide let’s all head out for a fun hiking adventure:
- We need to check Alex’s blood glucose to ensure he isn’t too low to exercise.
- We need to pack his testing supplies and insulin.
- We need the appropriate food to treat a low.
- We also need food that is safe for him to eat if he is high.
- And we need to check him frequently while we are hiking, cycling, sailing, any adventure we choose to embark on.
The thing is, with diabetes you always have to be prepared for every situation at every moment of every day and night with no time off, ever.
More and more people are being diagnosed every single day and we need to educate people.
People need to understand the symptoms of diabetes so they or a loved one can get the medical treatment they need and deserve.
Just in Canada alone, by the time you reach 20 years of age you have a 50% chance of developing diabetes.
That is a scary statistic.
What is even scarier is the number of people walking around out there who are diabetic and don’t know it.
It could be you, your friends, your parents, your siblings, or your children and most of us don’t know the symptoms to be aware of.
Until Alex was diagnosed, I had no idea what the symptoms of diabetes were.
My mother had Type 2 diabetes and I still didn’t know the symptoms.
We need to get this knowledge out there.
This is why communities all across the country will be hosting events in an attempt to bring awareness and knowledge about diabetes to the public.
November 4 is Diabetes Educator Day
November 4th is a day set aside to thank the diabetes educators for the tireless work they do day in and day out.
Whenever someone is diagnosed with diabetes they work with a diabetes educator to help them understand their disease and learn how to manage it.
Diabetes educators will also work jointly with parents and schools to ensure children with diabetes can be safe and as healthy as possible while getting an education.
They also work with various coaches in kids sports to bring awareness so the kids who wish to partake in sports have coaches who know what to do when sugars are low.
I am so thankful for the diabetes educators that worked with my daughter and son-in-law when Alex was diagnosed and when he started school.
They are always available to answer questions and I personally tip my hat to them.
They are doing a fantastic job.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day
World Diabetes Day occurs on November 14th and is a global event as well as the official United Nations World Health Day which unites the global community.
Diabetes Canada together with JDRF will light the province of BC blue on World Diabetes Day to bring awareness.
Remember to wear blue and snap a photo for social sharing using #EndDiabetes.
You will see my photo on my FB, Twitter, and Instagram on Nov. 14th and I hope to also see yours.
What are the symptoms of Diabetes?
We all love our families and want the very best for them. That includes good health. This is why it is important to recognize the symptoms of diabetes. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, seek medical advice immediately:
- frequent urination
- excessive thirst and drinking a LOT
- extreme hunger
- extreme fatigue
- blurry vision
- cuts or sores that don’t heal properly or take longer to heal
It was the frequent urination and excessive thirst that alerted our daughter that Alex might be diabetic. She made a doctor’s appointment and her fears were validated. He was diagnosed that very day when her doctor sent them directly to the hospital after doing an in-office finger poke.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes used to be called Juvenile Diabetes because it is usually diagnosed in children and teens although it can be diagnosed later.
In type 1, the person’s immune system attacks and kills the insulin-producing beta cells within the pancreas. When this happens the person can no longer produce enough or any insulin.
Insulin is important because it is essential in order for our muscle cells to be able to absorb the glucose from the food we eat to use as energy.
Without insulin, the glucose will accumulate in the blood reaching dangerously high levels risking DKA(diabetic ketoacidosis) a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is often caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices and obesity.
While they still produce insulin their body becomes resistant to and is unable to effectively use it causing the buildup of glucose in the blood.
Again, high blood glucose levels over a prolonged period can cause several complications.
Treatment of Diabetes
As Canadians in 2021, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting.
Thanks to Frederick Banting and his team, type 1 diabetics no longer face a death sentence with the diagnosis. They can live happy, healthy, productive lives simply by taking daily insulin injections.
Naturally, insulin has been improved upon through the years since.
Type 2 diabetics often can be treated with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Some medications may be required and they may need insulin in the future.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with diabetes be sure to work closely with your diabetes care team and follow all their advice. Take all medication as prescribed.
“I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences.”
Hopefully, we are all a little more aware of what is national diabetes month.
With diabetes increasingly on the rise not only in North America but worldwide, it is important to educate the public about the symptoms.
It is frightening to think about how many people are out walking around undiagnosed.
Having the proper medical care will help prevent many of the complications of diabetes such as heart disease and vision problems to name just a few.
Properly managing diabetes not only saves lives but it can improve the quality of life for those who have diabetes.
You can be sure I will be and I hope to see you there.
Were you aware of the symptoms and treatments of diabetes?
Do you or someone you know have diabetes?
Help spread the word and support your diabetic friends or family members by wearing blue on November 14th, World Diabetes Day, and snapping a photo. Share that photo on all your social media accounts using #EndDiabetes.
Share any tips or advice in the comment section below.