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Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Florida

From the Florida Department of Health

The Florida Department of Health recognizes November as Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about diabetes and promote the importance of taking steps to confront diabetes as a critical health issue.

“It’s important to understand the importance of early detection and management of diabetes,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “This year, I encourage you to know your risk factors for diabetes and act as a support system for those in your life who may be affected by it.”

“Diabetes and prediabetes are serious conditions affecting millions of Floridians, but it can be managed,” said State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. “Knowing your risk factors and developing and maintaining healthy habits can reduce the impact that diabetes can have on your life.”

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled in the last 20 years in the U.S. In Florida, it is estimated that over 2.4 million people have diabetes and over 5.8 million have prediabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in Florida.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects the way your body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood. Your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose, which your body uses for energy. Your blood takes the glucose to the cells throughout your body. Your blood always has some glucose in it. But too much glucose in the blood is not good for your health. Diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high.

The glucose from food needs insulin to get into the body’s cells. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas, an organ near the stomach. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood. If your body does not make enough insulin or the insulin does not work right, the glucose can’t get into the cells, so it stays in the blood. This makes your blood glucose level high, causing you to have diabetes.

Graphic from The Florida Department of Health

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant). Women with diabetes have more difficulty conceiving and may have poor pregnancy outcomes, so it is especially important for women to be aware of their risk factors for developing diabetes, including having a family history of diabetes as well as age, weight and physical activity level.

Graphic from The Florida Department of Health

At this time, there is no cure for diabetes, but a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce its impact. With access to better treatments, people with diabetes are now living longer—and with a better quality of life—than ever before. A blood test from your health care provider can determine if you have diabetes or prediabetes. Early treatment can prevent serious problems diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage and an increased risk for vascular diseases including heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

The Department works with several partners across the state, including local county health departments and community-based organizations, to increase availability and access to evidence-based programs such Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) and Diabetes Self-Management Education Support (DSMES) which help to promote and sustain healthy lifestyle changes. Moreover, for those persons living with diabetes, in addition to routinely checking your A1C blood glucose level, it is essential to ensure you’re taking your prescribed medication or insulin. For those needing assisting in obtaining insulin for their diabetes, the Department’s Insulin Distribution Program may help those who qualify.

During the month of November, the Department will host awareness campaigns across the state.

To learn more about diabetes prevention and self-management, visit www.floridahealth.gov/diabetes

For more information about National Diabetes Month, visit International Diabetes Federation and American Diabetes Association.

The Florida Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

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