November is National Diabetes Month. This annual event is meant to raise awareness about diabetes in its various forms. Incredibly, nearly one in four adults with diabetes are unaware that they have the disease. If you or your loved ones have never had your diabetes risk assessed, this month is a great opportunity to take the risk test. The knowledge you gain could be life-changing.
Chances are, you or someone you know has been personally touched by a diagnosis of diabetes. While diabetes is relatively common, it is largely misunderstood. Diabetes is a disease that impacts the body’s ability to handle glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood. There is no cure, but with education and the help of a physician, it can be managed and controlled with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. Through careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, a diabetic can work with their doctor to respond to their body’s needs.
There are three kinds of diabetes: gestational, type 1, and type 2. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and goes away after the baby is born. However, it puts both mother and baby at a heightened risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life, requiring ongoing monitoring for both.
Type 1 diabetes is a result of genetics and other unknown factors. In type 1 diabetics, the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body process and use sugar. In the past, it was known as “juvenile diabetes,” but that name is no longer used as people are diagnosed at all ages. In fact, there are more adults than children who have the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is significantly more common than type 1. This type results from the body not using insulin as well as it should, a condition called “insulin resistance.” This type of diabetes used to be known colloquially as “adult-onset,” but due to an epidemic of obesity among children, more and more children and teens are now diagnosed in the United States each year.
Obesity is only one of several possible causes of type 2 diabetes. In most cases, it is a combination of factors that lead to the condition. Some factors cannot be controlled, such as age, family medical history, and ethnicity, but others are related to personal medical history, habits, and lifestyle. If your physician finds you are at risk for type 2 diabetes or diagnoses you as being “pre-diabetic,” you may be able to bring some of these factors under control and reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is generally believed to be a progressive condition that can only be treated and controlled as mentioned above. However, in some cases, significant weight loss soon after diagnosis has been shown to reverse the disease process. Management of type 2 diabetes should always be done under a physician’s close supervision.
Liberty HealthShare members can get additional help through HealthTrac. HealthTrac is available to new members with certain pre-existing conditions that are typically responsive to lifestyle changeand current members who are diagnosed with one of the conditions included in the program. After diagnosis, members can voluntarily join HealthTrac in order to have access to a health coach who can help you manage your diagnosis. The cost is $80 per member, per month. If you find yourself in this situation, simply call Liberty at (855) 585-4237 and tell the representative you wish to enroll in HealthTrac.
Members of Liberty HealthShare make the stewardship of both their health and the healthcare dollars of their fellow members a top priority. Making the lifestyle changes necessary to manage and bring certain medical conditions under control is just one practical way through which we honor the gifts of our bodies and the collective resources of our community. Especially because many factors that contribute to both the diagnosis and outcomes of type 2 diabetes are responsive to lifestyle change, we strongly encourage vigilance in this area. This month, if you haven’t already, take the diabetes risk test. It only takes a few moments to get information that can set you on a path toward better health for a lifetime.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and are considering enrollment with Liberty HealthShare, please visit our HealthTrac page. HealthTrac is our provisional program for new members with certain pre-existing conditions that can be improved through lifestyle changes. This program exists to help Sharing Members improve their health while reducing the risks associated with developing or exacerbating serious diseases.