Diabetes Awareness Month

November 17, 2023

Did you know 38.4 million Americans have diabetes? That’s almost 12% of the population. And more than one in three Americans have prediabetes, which is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. This Diabetes Awareness Month, we’re highlighting the importance of learning the signs and symptoms of diabetes and how to manage them. 

Iowa’s community health centers are working with patients to diagnose and manage diabetes. Members of the IowaHealth+ network are following a diabetes management model of care, aligning with best practices for diabetes management and ensuring patients have high quality care and A1C goals.  

What is Diabetes? 

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. When blood sugar (glucose) goes up, the pancreas should release insulin, which controls blood sugar levels and helps the body convert sugar into energy. With diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Over time, this can lead to serious medical conditions, including vision loss, heart disease, and kidney disease.  

There are three main types of diabetes:  

  • Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas
  • Type 2 diabetes, when the body doesn’t make enough insulin and/or the body’s cells don’t respond well to the insulin
  • Gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy

Diabetes Symptoms, Management and Prevention 

The symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop quicker than symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Some symptoms include: 

  • Feeling thirstier than normal
  • Urinating often and an increase in urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Feeling irritable or having mood changes
  • Having blurry vision
  • Having slow-healing sores, cuts, and scrapes
  • Getting a lot of infections, such as gum, skin and vaginal infections

Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented. It is possible to manage diabetes and possibly prevent prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes through healthy lifestyle choices, such as:  

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Using certain medications

Visit one of Iowa’s community health centers to learn more about diabetes management and prevention!