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Education and prevention are themes of World Diabetes Day

Girl checking blood sugar

A young girl with Type 1 diabetes checks her blood sugar level. 

With World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, this year’s campaign focuses on access to diabetes care, including increasing education about the chronic disease.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates 537 million adults around the world currently live with diabetes: that’s 1 out of 10 adults. The American Diabetes Association shows about 283,000 children and adolescents in the U.S. have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Sadly, the condition caused 6.7 million deaths worldwide in 2021. That is why it’s important to understand the facts, know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and be aware of potential risks for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Children and adolescents develop Type 1 diabetes when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone the body needs to survive. Symptoms may not be as easy to spot, but common complaints in children with Type 1 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue and blurred vision. Consult a health care provider or pediatrician, and a blood test will determine the diagnosis.

World Diabetes Day logo

While the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatment requires taking insulin, monitoring blood sugar, a healthy diet and exercise. There are many types of insulin and ways to deliver insulin to the body, such as an insulin pen or syringe or a pump.

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong health condition that can be controlled and managed, yet also requires ongoing medical care to reduce the risks of serious complications.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, and the body can’t use energy from food properly. This causes high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems. Although more common in older adults, Type 2 diabetes has been affecting younger and younger people because of the increase in obesity. The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is with a healthy lifestyle that focuses on eating right and being active.

World Diabetes Day was made an official United Nations Day in 2006 in order to draw awareness to the growing number of people diagnosed and to confront diabetes as a global health issue. Since millions of people worldwide don’t have access to diabetes care, the initiative focuses on countries investing more in treatment and prevention.

In South Carolina, approximately 500,000 adults have diabetes. The Lowcountry offers many programs that support those living with diabetes. Some of those programs include:

Tri-County Diabetes Coalition: Launched in January 2017, the Tri-County Diabetes Coalition is a partnership of healthcare providers, community organizations, faith-based groups, local government, universities and community members.

Access Health Tri-County Network’s PreventT2 program: If you have prediabetes or are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the PreventT2 program can help.

Diabetes Free SC: Programs range from diet and maternal diabetes to education on children with diabetes as well.

Check out the classes and programs offered at area hospitals as well:

For more information, visit worlddiabetesday.org.