Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have Prediabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. November is American Diabetes Month, and we want you to be informed. What is it? Am I at risk? What can I do now to help live with or prevent diabetes?

First off, what is diabetes? Diabetes develops when the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use glucose for energy. The body produces glucose from the food you eat. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease that is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is often diagnosed in adults.

You are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes if:

  • You are overweight.
  • A parent, brother or sister has diabetes.
  • You are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander.
  • You had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or had Gestational Diabetes.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have low HDL (good cholesterol).
  • You have high triglycerides.

People who have diabetes are at risk for additional complications such as kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, amputations and blindness. But by managing your A1C (a measure of average blood glucose), blood pressure and cholesterol, people with diabetes can help reduce the risk of these types of complications.

We've already covered the factors that increase the risk of getting diabetes. Preventing or managing diabetes can be challenging. Consider doing the following to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, or to help you reduce the risk of complications if you have diabetes:

  • Exercise regularly =, a little bit can go a long way! Set up a meeting with EIRMC's, exercise physiologist, who can get you on the right track.
  • Work with a dietitian to develop your own, personalized meal plan to help you make healthy meal choices. If you have questions about fats, cholesterol, sodium or carbohydrates, EIRMC's registered dietitians can guide you to a healthier you.
  • Meet with a Diabetes Educator for assistance on such topics as meal planning, blood glucose testing, medication therapy, goal setting, reducing risks and problem solving.
  • If you are a smoker, get help to kick that habit.

If you currently have diabetes, check out this video from Val Chessin, RN and Certified Diabetes Educator, at The Wellness Center at EIRMC. She discusses how to balance carbs, proteins and sugars in your diet, in order to better manage blood sugar levels.

EIRMC's Diabetes Education Program at The Wellness Center has all the resources you need to answer any questions and to help you get on a healthy track. Call them at 529-6700 today for additional information.