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November is American Diabetes Month — a time to come together to bring attention to the different types of diabetes that impact millions of people’s lives. Approximately one in 10 Americans (37.3 million people total) have diabetes. While as many as 95% of these cases are classified as type 2 diabetes, the number of people living with type 1 diabetes is increasing over time. It’s for this reason that moments like American Diabetes Month are critical for raising awareness for the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes, with the goal of ensuring that people of all ages understand the importance of early detection.
To do so effectively, however, it’s important that we begin by expanding our collective understanding of type 1 diabetes, which is distinct from type 2 diabetes despite both being forms of “diabetes mellitus.” While type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder, with lifestyle factors playing a role in development, as well as genetic factors, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that can arise from environmental or genetic factors. Just consider that if anyone in your family has type 1 diabetes, you’re up to 15 times more likely to be diagnosed. Additionally, although type 1 diabetes often develops in children, teens and young adults, it can affect anyone at any age. In fact, recent data show that over 50% of new cases of type 1 diabetes occur in adults. Type 1 diabetes also cannot be prevented or cured.
But what’s perhaps most critical to know about type 1 diabetes isn’t just its prevalence, it’s the fact that it can be detected early through autoantibody screenings.
Because type 1 diabetes develops in stages over time, there are blood tests that can detect type 1 diabetes before any noticeable symptoms arise, before insulin is required and potentially before any life-threatening complications occur. One such example of this is a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a serious complication that develops when you don’t have enough insulin to let blood sugar into your cells. As a result, your liver is forced to break down fat for fuel, producing dangerous levels of acids called ketones in your body that can lead to coma or even death. Unfortunately, for individuals who have undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, DKA is far too often how they find out they have diabetes — with as many as 40% of DKA cases stemming from those who are newly diagnosed.
When it comes to type 1 diabetes, early screening may give you more time to prepare. The more you know, the more you can plan ahead. This American Diabetes Month, take control of the future by talking to your doctor about getting screened and participating in The 1 Pledge movement, which is being led by Sanofi. Take the pledge to get screened for type 1 diabetes at The1Pledge.com, where you can also find more educational information. Follow and use #ScreenForType1 to join the conversation on social media.
It’s time that we change the story around type 1 diabetes. Not knowing is simply no longer an acceptable option. Get screened today.
Sanofi does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment — information is provided for educational purposes only. Your doctor is the best source of health information. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your health or treatment.