November 14 marks World Diabetes Day. This date is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, the man that co-discovered insulin. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this life-saving discovery. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by The International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization to respond to the growing need to promote universal education and health coverage for diabetes management.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas can no longer create insulin. Insulin is vital to those with both type 1 and 2 diabetes – as it is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Without it, blood sugar levels may drop too low, or rise too high.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teenagers, and young adults and is less common than type 2 diabetes. However, it can occur at every age and in people of every race, shape, and size. Some are genetically predisposed – having traits passed on from parent to child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, called beta cells. Those with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin shots every day, in addition to managing blood sugar levels daily.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and lifelong disease. This means the body doesn’t use insulin properly (insulin resistance) and needs medication or insulin to regulate it. While most people can manage blood sugar levels through a healthy diet and exercise, too much sugar can lead to disorders of the nervous, circulatory, and immune systems.
People with type 2 diabetes should take a blood sugar reading at least once a day. Symptoms usually start mild, so most people do not notice the changes. Symptoms include increased thirst, weight loss without effort, blurry vision, increased urination, fatigue, hunger, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. The good news is if you are at risk, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Learn your risk through the American Diabetes Association.
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