November is American Diabetes Month, and both the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) are offering their support to everyone affected by diabetes or prediabetes.
Almost 50% of all American adults have diabetes or prediabetes, according to experts at the ADA. What is lacking is an understanding of this chronic illness, and the toll of managing it each day, over a lifetime.
In response, the ADA has launched the “This Is Diabetes” campaign, and asks everyone affected by diabetes—including diabetics, their caregivers, and even those at risk for diabetes—to take a stand against diabetes and share their heroic stories of how they deal with their illness.
“People living with diabetes face enormous challenges each day to manage their diabetes, and they must do so while living their normal lives. We recognize the incredible strength they show, and stand with them to help stop the diabetes epidemic,” said William T. Cefalu, MD, ADA’s chief scientific, medical, and mission officer.
“From the mom who takes her insulin shot on the way to pick up her daughter from ballet, to the businessman who prepares his mother’s meals and her diabetes medicine each day before leaving for work, the stories of everyday people who live with or love someone with diabetes remind all of us that they are heroes.”
When not addressed, the burdens of diabetes can take a medical, financial, and personal toll. People with diabetes also have an increased risk for other illnesses and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, amputation, and blindness.
Experts estimate that the annual economic burden of diabetes and prediabetes totals $322 billion, and those with diabetes have 2.3 times the health-care costs of those without.
“One in 11 Americans has diabetes, a chronic disease that can often lead to serious complications and requires constant self-management,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, ADA’s senior vice president, Government Affairs & Advocacy. “This November, we are asking people to start paying attention—to step up, suit up, and join us in improving the lives of all people affected by diabetes,” he added.
In offering support to individuals with diabetes during American Diabetes Month, Griffin P. Rodgers, MA, MACP, NIDDK’s director, made this statement:
“More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes—and each one is the most important member of their diabetes care team. This National Diabetes Month, I urge everyone with diabetes to make your care a joint effort between you, your loved ones, and your health-care team.
“In addition to managing blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol and not smoking, people with diabetes need to make healthy food choices, stay at a healthy weight, move more every day, and take their medicine even when they feel good. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it—research has shown that these efforts can dramatically lower the risk of many diabetes-related health problems, including heart, kidney, nerve, and eye diseases. Having a network of support can help people with diabetes cope with the daily demands that come with diabetes and help them be more successful in managing their health.
“But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to diabetes care, and treatment plans need to consider each person’s values, goals, needs, and preferences. Developing realistic goals—such as taking breaks for short walks during the day if you are too tired to be active in the evening—can help you manage your diabetes in a way that works for you.
“As we learn more about how to treat and someday prevent all types of diabetes, we hope you’ll use this National Diabetes Month as a chance to take charge of your health. Go to health visits with questions you may have. Start making small changes to your lifestyle.
“At the NIH, we’re committed to improving outcomes for all people with diabetes. This National Diabetes Month, we encourage everyone with diabetes to take center stage in their health care and to set health goals that work for you.”