Rochester, Minnesota - November is National Diabetes Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about preventing and treating diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar. The underlying cause of diabetes varies by type. But no matter what type of diabetes you have, it can lead to excess sugar in your blood. Too much sugar in your blood can lead to serious health problems.

The two types of chronic diabetes conditions are Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, although it often appears during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, also can develop at any age, although it's more common in people over 40.

Prediabetes means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, but it's not yet high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy, causing high blood sugar levels that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health.

Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication that may affect as many as half of people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels can injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.

Depending on the affected nerves, diabetic neuropathy symptoms can range from pain and numbness in your legs and feet to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart. Some people have mild symptoms. For others, diabetic neuropathy can be painful and disabling.

A healthy diet is a critical factor in controlling blood sugar, which is key in managing diabetes, and preventing or slowing the progression of complications such as diabetic neuropathy. Good blood sugar management also may improve some of your current symptoms.

Dietary supplements also may help reduce diabetic neuropathy symptoms, but more research is needed. Learn more about the potential benefits and risks of taking B12, alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine for diabetic neuropathy.