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Diabetes. It is a word we hear so often. Your co-worker has diabetes. Your great uncle has diabetes. Maybe you have diabetes. Yes, this condition is that common – just about everyone knows at least one person who suffers from diabetes. But what is it? Who can get it? And, why does it seem like so many people have this condition?

In honor of November being Diabetes Awareness Month, we are going to explore the answers to these questions – and more!

Diabetes Fast Facts

It is one thing to say that diabetes affects a lot of people. It is another to actually look at the numbers. To give you some perspective of just how widespread diabetes is, let’s take a look at these fast facts:

  • Worldwide, over 422 million people have diabetes. Let’s repeat that: Over 422 million people worldwide have diabetes! Wow!
  • In the United States, over 30 million people have diabetes. That is nearly 10% of the population!
  • One in three individuals with diabetes didn’t even know they had it before they were diagnosed.
  • Of those who are diagnosed with diabetes, approximately 25% have no idea how or why they have it.
  • According to the CDC, over 80 million people currently have prediabetes and are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Shockingly, only 10% of these individuals know they are at risk. That means 90% have no clue! That’s a dangerous number.

So, what do these numbers mean? With so many people either contending with the condition, at risk for it, or walking around without even knowing they have it – it is evident that awareness is desperately needed.

DiabeTES testing: What the numbers mean

If you have not been tested for diabetes, you should be. This is especially true if you have a family history of the condition, meet any of the risk factors, or are experiencing any of the common symptoms. But, let’s be honest, having an understanding of what the test results mean can have a better impact, right?

So, let’s talk about that for a moment. If you have recently been tested – or you will be – here’s an idea of what your reading should be.

  • Testing your blood glucose before a meal (or when fasting) should result in a reading of at least 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher.
  • After you consume a meal (two hours after), testing your blood glucose should result in a reading of 200 mg/dL or higher.
  • The hemoglobin A1C test shows how much glucose has attached to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells over the past three months. Your reading should be at least 6.5 or higher.

Says Matt Schmidt of “Someone who doesn’t have diabetes should still be concerned with the test results. After all, prediabetes reflects someone who is at serious risk of having type 2 diabetes.” To determine this, doctors will advise that someone with prediabetes will reflect the following results:

  • Fasting blood glucose is 100 to 125 mg/dL
  • Glucose after a meal is 140 to 199 mg/dL
  • An A1C is in the range of 5.7 to 6.4

Education and Awareness

The more you can learn about diabetes, the better your overall health will be. This is a serious condition that affects hundreds of millions of people around the globe. And, it could affect you or someone you love.

Many people with Diabetes are struggling to pay for the costs associated with their chronic illness. Not everyone can comfortably afford insulin, or the technology that’s available to them to help monitor their diabetes.

There are many things you can do to help! Consider donating to a Diabetes non-profit like Beyond Type 1 or a local Diabetes charity in your community. In event you prefer to donate your time, rather than money, look into volunteering at a JDRF fundraiser. These groups are always in need of volunteers to assist with their events.

This November as part of Diabetes Awareness month - Get tested. Talk to your doctor. And encourage those around you to do the same.

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