diabetes-awareness-month-cpNovember is National Diabetes Month, and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is encouraging all Hoosiers to take steps to reduce their risk of diabetes, the seventh-leading cause of death in Indiana.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that develop when the body does not produce enough insulin, is unable to use insulin effectively, or both. Nearly 11 percent of adults in Indiana are living with diabetes, a 37 percent increase since 2005. Additionally, one-third of Indiana adults have prediabetes, a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

“Diabetes is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness, but there are ways you can prevent or delay the onset of the most common type of diabetes,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “Exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco use and getting your blood glucose checked regularly are all important steps toward a healthier life.”

There are two forms of diabetes. Type 1, previously called juvenile-onset diabetes, develops when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin. There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, occurs when cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Type 2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes and physical inactivity.

Prediabetes often has no symptoms and, if left untreated, can develop into type 2 diabetes within just a few years. However, prediabetes is reversible with lifestyle changes.

ISDH is helping organizations increase the number of National Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPPs), which help people increase physical activity, eat healthy and lose weight. In 2013, Indiana had programs in just four locations. Today there are programs in 92 locations across the state. Anyone over 18 who has prediabetes or is at risk for prediabetes can participate in a DPP. Go to www.preventdiabetes.isdh.in.gov to see if you are eligible.

ISDH also is partnering with diabetes education programs to educate Hoosiers with diabetes about ways to lower their blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C and is working with healthcare professionals on diabetes management. On Nov. 17, the agency is partnering with the American Diabetes Association for the 2017 Diabetes Care Symposium, which will provide the latest strategies for preventing and treating diabetes across the lifespan.

Individuals diagnosed with diabetes can learn how to manage their condition and prevent complications through a Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) program. DSME programs are also valuable for caretakers or family members of individuals with diabetes.

To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online Prediabetes Screening Test at https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/prediabetestest.pdf. For more information about diabetes or prediabetes, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/24966.htm.

Visit ISDH for important health and safety updates at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.