Every November the American Diabetes Association focuses on raising “awareness and to create a sense of urgency about this growing public health crisis” of diabetes. One out of every 11 Americans, more than 29 million, has diabetes. And another 86 million adults “are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes” in the United States. This year the theme of the campaign is “This is Diabetes” and they want those with diabetes to share their story.
There are three types of diabetes, Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, formally known as juvenile diabetes, usually occurs in children and young adults. It is considered an autoimmune disease because the body “attacks and destroys the beta cells” in the pancreas which produce the insulin. While heredity plays an important role in who might develop this type of diabetes, “environmental factors, such as foods, viruses, and toxins, may play a role” in the development as well. Those diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes “will need insulin shots or an insulin pump to control their blood glucose levels.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, affecting millions in the U.S. Those affected are often “middle-age and older who are also overweight or obese.” The body produces insulin, but it is either not enough or the body is unable to use the insulin effectively. As with Type 1 diabetes, genetics and “environmental factors are the most likely triggers of type 2 diabetes.”
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and may be “caused by hormonal changes and metabolic demands of pregnancy together with genetic and environmental factors.” Women who are overweight or obese, or those with a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes.
What does diabetes have to do with tobacco? “Smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers.” And those with diabetes who use tobacco are “more likely to have trouble with insulin dosing and controlling their disease.” Not only will smoking cause issues with diabetes, it can cause other serious complications including heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow to legs and feet which could lead to other problems including amputation, retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness), and peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination).
Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may have and discuss your family history. If you smoke or use tobacco, quitting will improve your overall health and help with insulin control. Educate yourself about how you can manage your diabetes through diet, weight lose, and try to stay active to keep yourself as healthy as possible.