Join the Millions in the fight to Stop DiabetesToday is annual Diabetes Alert Day — an important day, I suppose, for finding all those "hidden" type 2 diabetics out there who don't yet know they have it — but for us already living with diabetes, a somewhat enigmatic campaign.  Also, for those of us concerned with type 1 diabetes, today seems like an excellent day to do some advocating on the symptoms and risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, dontcha think?

Starting at the beginning, let us consider that there are 26 million Americans with diabetes, and an estimated 27 percent (that's 7 million people) who aren't even diagnosed yet, so the impact here is staggering. Remember that the symptoms of type 2 diabetes can take years to develop, which is why regular screening tests are vital for those at risk. We've heard too many stories of people who only got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when they went to see their doctor for severe vision problems or other late-stage complications.

Those of us "engaged" in our diabetes know the importance of taking our medication and monitoring our blood sugar. It makes us feel better and helps us lead long, healthy, complication-free lives.

To encourage the country at large to get more engaged in its own health, the American Diabetes Association has launched a new awareness campaign called the "Join the Million Challenge." It's a month-long initiative in which the ADA is encouraging one million people to take the Diabetes Risk Test to identify whether or not they are at risk for type 2 diabetes. As a reminder, the risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

- Family history

Innovation 2015

- Race (Native Americans are the most at-risk ethnic group, as well as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)

- Being overweight

- Being physically inactive

- Having diabetes during pregnancy

- Being over the age of 45

How will the ADA net those one million participants in the Risk Test? They're encouraging all of us to spread the word through social media, via automatic Facebook and Twitter messages that you can send easily by just clicking the links. That seems a pretty clever way to help get the word out beyond just the diabetes blogosphere bubble.

* We encourage you to help out here, by referring any family and friends who might be at risk to the Diabetes Risk Test — whether by word-of-mouth, by emailing them, or by using the ADA's magical auto-social-media

* You can also look up local Diabetes Alert Day events happening in your area by visiting the ADA's interactive listing here

 

While we surely don't mind helping to spread the word about this type 2 diabetes awareness campaign, we at the 'Mine can't help but feel a little sad that type 1 diabetes hasn't been included in a more proactive way here...

Of course, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are usually way more obvious than those of type 2. But then again, we've known several children who became extremely ill because their doctors assumed they had the flu. One mother whom Allison met while she was in high school had lost her child to undiagnosed diabetes.  We've also discovered that many newly diagnosed adults do not know what type of diabetes they have — even those who lost a lot of weight at diagnosis and were put on insulin right away.  So clearly there IS a need for more "alert" to the onset of type 1 as well.

Just to test the waters, I Googled "How do you know if you have type 1 diabetes?" and I found a couple of really good links. Healia.com publishes this guide. Diabetes.net has a nice page to help you figure out what type of diabetes you have. But my favorite was a sweet gal who calls herself qtcassie220 online, who's posted her own personal set of type 1 awareness videos. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes? I'll let her do the talking:

Speaking of advocacy, there are some weird things going on at the government level that will affect ALL of us with diabetes. While the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has just announced a sweeping 10-year strategic plan for diabetes research, JDRF is partnering with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of (separate?) research.

According to JDRF, "there are proposals in Congress that would cut NIH funding, which could impact promising research on new approaches to diagnose, prevent, and treat diabetes. Worse, the cuts could be a devastating blow to the millions of patients that rely every day on NIH for the possibility of a healthier tomorrow and to the next generation of promising U.S. scientists."

They're encouraging all of us to sign this petition to indicate our support of this mission-critical NIH research on diabetes. Please. Go. Do.

We thank you.

 

{btw, in case you're reading this at work, don't feel bad: March 22 is also International Goof Off Day, so you're actually doing your part in two ways!}

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.