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American Diabetes Association Alert Day

American Diabetes Association Alert Day is "a one-day 'wake-up call' to raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and its risk factors" which takes place each year on the fourth Tuesday of March. The focal point of the day is the Diabetes Risk Test, which the public is asked to take and to share about with others. The sooner people know what their risk is for type 2 diabetes, the sooner they can get on a path to preventing or managing the disease, and the closer the American Diabetes Association, who created the day, is to stopping the disease.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood glucose (also known as blood sugar), the main source of energy for humans, which comes from food, is too high. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into cells so it can be used for energy. If the body doesn't produce enough of it or use it well, glucose stays in the blood and doesn't reach cells. Those with diabetes can develop other health problems over time like heart disease, stroke, dental disease, foot and eye problems, nerve damage, and kidney disease.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make insulin because the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that are supposed to make it. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, but people can get it at any age. Those who have this disease must take insulin every day to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make or use insulin very well. This type can develop at any age, but it most develops with those who are middle-aged or old. It is the most common type of diabetes, encompassing 90–95% of all diabetes cases. It is this type that prevention is most focused on today.

There are a few other types of diabetes. Some women develop gestational diabetes when pregnant. It usually goes away after their child is born, but if they get it the chances are greater they will have type 2 diabetes later in life. Some other rarer types of diabetes include monogenic diabetes and diabetes that those with cystic fibrosis get.

As of 2020, over 30 million Americans have diabetes, which is roughly 10 percent of the population. This includes one in four people over the age of 65. When those who are at risk for diabetes are added in, the number goes to about 110 million people. Those with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are high, but they are not high enough to be considered to be diabetes. Nine out of ten people with prediabetes don't know they have it, and one in four adults with diabetes don't know they have it. This illustrates the importance of having a day that focuses on assessing one's risk for diabetes.

Risk factors for diabetes include lack of exercise, being overweight, not eating a healthy diet, having high blood pressure, being over the age of 45, and having a family history of diabetes. A more in-depth way of assessing risk than taking the Diabetes Risk Test is to take the A1C, a blood test that gives the average of an individual's blood glucose level over a 2–3 month timeframe. But before someone goes on to take this test, their awareness must first be raised, and that is what American Diabetes Association Alert Day aims to do.

How to Observe

The day is to be spent raising awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and about what its risk factors are. The public is asked to take the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Risk Test and to share about it with others, including with employees, clients, customers, friends, and family.

Posts can also be made on social media about the day. Here are a few post examples:

Facebook: "Today is @American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Take the Diabetes Risk Test to learn your risk for type 2 diabetes, then share it with everyone you love. Take it. Share it."

Twitter: "Today is #DiabetesAlert Day! Take a minute to learn your risk for #type2 (via @AmDiabetesAssn)"

If after taking the Diabetes Risk Test, which is quite brief, you find yourself at risk, you could spend the day delving deeper into what you should do next. You could spend the day learning more about the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and then formulate a new game plan for going forward. This could include trying new recipes and undertaking a new exercise routine. You could also consider getting an A1C blood test. Follow the American Diabetes Association on Facebook and Twitter for more information related to diabetes and American Diabetes Association Alert Day.

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