Every year, communities far and wide come together to ring the alarm on the diabetes epidemic. For the millions of those who are at risk for this life-threatening condition, National Diabetes Awareness is a time to get educated, find resources, and make sure all those around you are aware of the risks, not merely the sufferers. For the millions of people living with diabetes, it’s a chance to tell your stories and awaken the world.

Until a cure is discovered, this awareness month helps to mark a time to lift each other up and see what it’s like to walk in a person’s shoes who is weathering the debilitating symptoms of diabetes.

What’s it like living with diabetes?

Whether you’ve been newly diagnosed, have been fighting against type 1 or type 2 diabetes throughout your life, or are helping a loved one, National Diabetes Awareness month is an excellent place to start. To gain a deeper understanding of how you can live a healthier life—with all the tools, health tips, and food ideas you need–simply knowing you have options and that you don’t have to be held back allows you to live your best life. All that’s needed is to take action and stick with it.

Different types of diabetes

  1. Type 1 – Type 1 diabetes occurs at every age and in people of every race, shape, and size. There is no shame in having it, and there’s always a community of people ready to support you–from healthcare workers to social services to neighbors, to family members. Learning as much as you can about type 1 and working closely with your diabetes care team can give you everything you need to thrive.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar that it uses for energy—and insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, everyone can learn to manage their condition and live long healthy lives.

Remember: this is a condition that can be managed. By living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and a proper diet, you can live a normal life and do everything you set out to do.

  1. Type 2 – Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It means that a person’s body doesn’t use insulin properly, and while some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it. Regardless, there are options—and the American Diabetes Association is available with the tools, resources, and supports individual diabetics need.

In managing type 2 diabetes, the key is to maintain a healthy diet by eating foods that sustain blood sugar levels while also helping the body to feel better and satisfied. Just remember that it’s a process. It’s important to find helpful tips and diet plans that best suit a person’s lifestyle—and how daily nutritional intake can contribute to lifelong wellness.

Exercise is another key to managing type 2 diabetes, and the good news is all that’s required is to simply get moving every day. Find activities that you love and do them as often as possible. Putting yourself in charge of your life needs to be a priority.

  1. Gestational diabetes – A form of diabetes that can be a scary diagnosis, yet it’s one that a person can manage. It typically happens to millions of women, however by working with your physician, the result is a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. The cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, but what is known is that the placenta supports the baby as it grows.

Sometimes, these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin to her body and it causes a problem called insulin resistance, which makes it difficult for the mother’s body to use insulin. This means that she may need up to three times as much insulin to compensate. The key to treating gestational diabetes is to act quickly by working with your doctor to keep your blood sugar levels normal, through special meal plans and regular physical activity.

Let’s make diabetes awareness happen

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), National Diabetes Month was actually established 40 years ago in 1975, though Congress and the U.S. presidents didn’t start passing proclamations recognizing November as “diabetes month” until the early 1980s. The ADA then trademarked “American Diabetes Month” in 1997.

November is a time when diabetes organizations of all sizes launch awareness efforts, initiatives, and campaigns, and local diabetes communities can come together to share stories about this condition with the general public. Diabetes awareness is important because it translates into a greater understanding of–and compassion for–those living with the disease. There is an increased willingness by schools, companies, and other organizations to make accommodations when and where needed, and a larger number of people providing more vigorous support than ever towards finding a cure.

Time to make it happen!