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Key Takeaways: Diabetes is recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and every November, communities across the US seek to raise awareness and educate individuals about it for American Diabetes Month. Galt Foundation shines a light on this invisible disability by sharing information and resources about diabetes – a disability that over 7 million Americans are unknowingly living with today.
Over 30 million Americans currently live with diabetes, and of those, more than 7 million are undiagnosed. This highlights the need for proper education and resources surrounding diabetes, so people can become aware of their own risks and seek treatment if necessary.
Every November, communities across the US recognize American Diabetes Month and raise awareness for the disease, which is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Galt Foundation is joining the initiative with our own awareness efforts by providing insights into this disability, and encouraging individuals to get regular health screenings.
What You Need to Know about Diabetes
Experienced by 10% of Americans, diabetes can lead to numerous health complications if left untreated. It can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, or nerve damage, and can even lead to blindness or amputations.
That is why it is critical to visit a physician for regular check-ups, as this can help with early diagnosis and treatment. It is also important to understand what diabetes is and to recognize the factors that can put you at risk for developing the disease.
What is diabetes? It is a condition in which an individual’s body cannot properly process the glucose, or sugars, from food into energy. As a result, the sugars build up in the blood system, which can have health implications. There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops working properly, causing the body to stop producing enough insulin. Though this type of diabetes can develop at any age, it occurs “most frequently in children and adolescents.” Autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes.
The most common form of diabetes is type 2, which occurs when the body cannot properly make use of its own insulin. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age (45+), obesity, a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Indigenous Americans, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders). The American Diabetes Association offers a 60-second type 2 diabetes risk test online to help individuals assess their risk of developing this form of the disease.
The third type is gestational diabetes. It occurs when a woman develops increased blood sugar levels during pregnancy, and it usually disappears once the pregnancy is over. Risk factors for this type of diabetes include obesity, a family history of diabetes, and race/ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Indigenous Americans). Women who develop gestational diabetes have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
The American Diabetes Month Campaign: Then & Now
The idea of National Diabetes Month was originally established in 1975, and November was officially recognized as “diabetes month” by Congress and the US president in the early 1980s.
This national campaign is accompanied by the observance of World Diabetes Day (WDD) which takes place on November 14. The WDD campaign was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Foundation and World Health Organization to raise awareness for this escalating global health concern.
Today, American Diabetes Month continues to be celebrated annually in an effort to encourage individuals to visit their doctors for early diagnosis and treatment.
How to Get Involved with American Diabetes Month
You can show your support for people with diabetes by educating yourself to better understand the disease and recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association offers a detailed list of diabetes symptoms that you can reference. Plus, you can encourage healthy lifestyle choices in others, such as healthy eating and regular physical activity, by engaging in these behaviors as well.
You can also recognize American Diabetes Month by raising awareness about the national campaign, such as in the workplace, or by partaking in any safe, socially-distanced events occurring in your local area.
For additional suggestions on how you can help, check out the following resources:
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