November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. The theme for Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day 2019 is Family and Diabetes. Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day is a campaign run by the International Diabetes Federation. Its goal is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected, and promoting the role of the family in the management, care, prevention and education of diabetes.

World Diabetes Day is Nov. 14. The Henry County Coordinated School Health asks that you wear blue to help raise awareness of diabetes. Thank you in advance for your support.

Diabetes is much more common than you think and is an ever-growing disease. The American Diabetes Association reports nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States.

Diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot control the amount of fuel (glucose) in your blood. Just as a car is powered by gas, our bodies are powered by glucose. Our bodies get the glucose to power our engines (cells) from the foods we eat. Insulin is what transports the glucose from the bloodstream to where it is needed in the cells. When an individual’s body has a problem either producing insulin or the body becomes resistant to insulin, then that is referred to as diabetes. Diabetes occurs at every age, in people of every race, and of every shape and size.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as insulin dependent diabetes, is when the pancreas stops making insulin and your body can’t control the amount of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetics require insulin injections in order to control glucose levels in the blood.

Type 2 diabetes, often referred to as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is when the body either resists the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. This may occur through being overweight and/or eating a consistently unhealthy diet. Type 2 diabetics do not always require insulin injections like type 1 diabetics. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through a change in lifestyle, whether it be from losing weight and eating a more healthy diet to incorporating a regular workout routine to keep the body fit.

Type 2 diabetes used to be unheard of in children and adolescents. However, within the last 20 years the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed. Researchers suspect that the increases in obesity among children and teens is driving the increase in type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Children and teens with type 2 diabetes often feel no symptoms at all.

The American Diabetes Association lists the following symptoms to be aware of with type 2 diabetes:

• Increased thirst.

• Frequent or nighttime urination.

• Blurry vision.

• Unusual and/or increased fatigue.

If any of the above symptoms are noted, please contact a health care provider to be further evaluated.

While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, steps to preventing or at least delaying type 2 diabetes can be taken. Since excessive weight gain, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are all factors that put a person at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, managing weight through healthy meals and increasing physical activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes and/or help delay complications if your child already has diabetes. Kids Health suggests the following simple strategies to help reduce your child’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other associated health problems:

• Eat a healthy diet. Encourage kids to eat low-fat, nutrient-rich foods such as whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

• Limit sugar intake. Avoid sugar-filled foods and beverages like sodas and juices. Encourage kids to drink more water.

• Encourage increased physical activity. Limit children’s screen time (television watching, video games, computer time).

Although the statistics for diabetes continue to be on the rise, let’s all do our part to educate each other on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle through eating healthy and staying active to help prevent conditions that may be preventable like type 2 diabetes. Don’t forget to wear blue on Nov. 14 to help raise awareness of diabetes. For questions or comments, please contact your child’s school nurse or call 644-3916.

KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lake- wood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.

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