“Type 1 diabetes has no known cause and no cure. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the beta cells in the pancreas.”
Do our Diabetes Awareness Month efforts reach beyond the diabetes community? Can we spread the word about the symptoms and causes of diabetes to educate those not already affected by diabetes?
I wrote this in 2012, but it still rings true and I thought it was worth sharing again.
I’ve wondered lately if all this awareness-raising we do during Diabetes Awareness Month isn’t just preaching to the choir. Does anyone hear us who isn’t already affected by diabetes?
I was writing to our school’s parent email list and decided that I wanted to throw in a little diabetes information to help educate and advocate.
Hopefully, it will help someone better understand what type 1 diabetes is and isn’t. Hopefully, it will help a parent see the signs before their child is in DKA. Hopefully, an adult will convince his doctor that he has LADA and not type 2 diabetes.
Educate and advocate. If that’s all we as parents of a child with type 1 diabetes do, I think that’s enough.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14th is World Diabetes Day. November 14 is the birthday of Dr. Banting, who along with Best, discovered insulin in 1921.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no known cause and no cure. There is nothing that anyone can do to prevent it. For whatever reason, the body attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes do not make their own insulin, which is needed to convert food into fuel for the body. They must get insulin via injections or an insulin pump.
Type 1 diabetes is different than type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder. In type 2 diabetes the body continues to make insulin, but it does not use it efficiently. This is called insulin resistance. Though there is thought to be a genetic component, lifestyle can play a part in its development. People with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their blood sugar through diet and exercise but may also need to take oral medications or insulin injections.
Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes, but that term is no longer in favor because of its inaccurate connotations. Children with diabetes will continue to have type 1 diabetes when they become adults (i.e., they don’t outgrow it when they become adults and it does not become type 2 in adulthood). Also, almost 50% of new cases of type 1 diabetes are now diagnosed in those over 18.
80 children and adults are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every day in the United States. Rates are increasing at 5% each year and scientists do not have an explanation. Approximately 1 in 400 children has type 1 diabetes.
It’s important to know the signs of diabetes for early diagnosis before it becomes life-threatening:
Diabetes Awareness Month Posts
World Diabetes Day Posts
(Originally published November 14, 2012.)
Here are several ways that you can help raise awareness about type 1 diabetes during Diabetes Awareness Month (November) and on World Diabetes Day (November 14th).
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month in the USA, and annually the International Diabetes Federation proclaims November 14th as World Diabetes Day. This date is chosen because it is the birthday of Fredrick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1922.
In October, we are flooded with everything pink for breast cancer awareness. Everyone knows what a pink ribbon means. But what about blue circles? Grey ribbons with a red blood drop? Do people who aren’t affected by diabetes even know the significance of the color or symbol?
Sometimes I feel that “diabetes awareness” is preaching to the choir and only reaches those of us already affected or already a part of the diabetes community. But it doesn’t have to.
We can raise our hands each November and say, “Look at us. This is important.”
You don’t have to go big. It can be as simple as wearing blue on Fridays. You could wear a blue circle pin on your lapel. I know I get compliments every time I wear mine and it allows me to open a dialog.
Last year I sent an e-mail to our school’s parent list describing type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the symptoms that you should look out for. Some parents rally the kids at school to wear blue or give class presentations. You could even do a bake sale and give the proceeds to a diabetes charity. (And yes, people with diabetes can have sweets as long as they have insulin to cover it.)
This year my effort for diabetes awareness is sharing a fact, tip, thought or feeling each and every day. As I post the graphics each morning on my Facebook page, I am amazed to see that some of these are shared with friends and family and seen by more than 20,000 people. Hopefully friends of friends of friends will learn something this month about diabetes and the challenges that it presents.
My daughter and I, along with others affected by diabetes, met with our local Congressman to urge his support of the Special Diabetes Program. Hearing the stories of people, young and old, with diabetes and the experiences of parents who have both little and grown kids with diabetes, reminded me that we must keep advocating. We must raise diabetes awareness. We need to stand up each November and say, “Look at us.” But we also need to raise awareness all year long to make sure funding continues going toward improving existing technologies and eventually finding a true biological cure.
We have come a long way since the early days of insulin, as produced by Banting and Best in a lab in Ontario. We have come a long way since the days of testing blood sugars once a week and boiling syringes. And continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, definitely make managing diabetes easier. But we must continue to raise diabetes awareness so that not only tax dollars and charitable contributions go toward research, but also so that people can understand the plight of a person with diabetes and his or her family:
That it is every second of every minute of every day.
“How Can We Raise Diabetes Awareness?” originally appeared on Insulet’s Omnipod Suite D blog, now called Podder Talk. This post is slightly modified for publication here. In full disclosure, Insulet compensated me for the content that I created for them, but I am not being compensated for sharing it today.