Diabetes is one of the most common diseases you’ll see if you become a nurse. This November is National Diabetes Month, and in the spirit of the month, we want to share the basics of what diabetes is, who it affects, and how to mitigate the effects of one of the most common diseases in the world.
Chances are, you’ve probably heard at least a little about diabetes. It’s a disease that happens when blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high. You need blood sugar to live. It’s your body’s main source of energy. However, if your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to break it down (or any insulin), then several potential health problems can occur, including death.
There are several types of diabetes, but Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common. In Type 1 diabetes, your body is incapable of making insulin. This type of diabetes can show itself at an early age, so when children are diagnosed with the disease, it is usually Type 1. Type 2 diabetes often develops in adulthood. That’s where your body does not produce or use insulin well. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, and it’s Type 2 that has been spreading both at home and abroad.
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Diabetes has been on the upswing in the United States. In the past decade, the number of Americans living with diabetes has increased by almost 50 percent. More than 29 million Americans live with diabetes, and worldwide the disease affects more than 380 million people. No one thing is responsible for the increased spread of diabetes, though changes in diet and lifestyle worldwide have made more populations vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes.
There is no known cure for diabetes, but it is a disease that can be managed. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight and keeping a healthy routine with regard to exercise, insulin management, and checking in with healthcare providers can allow people with diabetes to mitigate the effects of this common disease.
However, many people do need help, education, and nudges in the right direction. Much of the information, assistance, and encouragement people with diabetes get is from nurses. A nurse’s advice can reinforce healthy behavior, provide motivation, and help a patient take the actions they need to live a long, healthy life.