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National American Diabetes Month


Mary May, R.N., C.D.E.

The ADA launched the Stop Diabetes program in 2009, and since then, over 677,728 people have joined.  A large part of this campaign is providing diabetes education including knowing the risk factors for diabetes, recognizing the symptoms, and getting the tests recommended for early detection. Recent studies indicate early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition which develops causing the body to not produce enough insulin or to properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use glucose (sugar) for energy. The body produces glucose from the foods we eat. 

In Type 1 diabetes, the body is not able to make any insulin, and these individuals must take insulin shots to live.

In Type 2 diabetes, the body may be making lots of insulin, but the body is not able to use it properly.

There is a third type of diabetes called gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy and increases the risk of developing Type 2 later in life. The majority of people with diabetes have Type 2.

There are nearly 24 million Americans with diabetes and 5 million are unaware of that fact.

There is another condition called pre-diabetes which shows the blood glucose level is abnormal, but not high enough to be diabetes. There are over 57 million Americans with pre-diabetes and many don’t realize they have it. If they were aware, they could make a few lifestyle changes to prevent the development of diabetes.

For this reason, the ADA is focusing on education to help people recognize those at risk. Some of the risk factors include: being overweight, having family members with diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDL/good cholesterol, high triglycerides, being a member of certain ethnic groups such as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and having had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

The signs and symptoms of diabetes include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, irritability, vision changes and fatigue. For many, the only symptom experienced is fatigue, which often is attributed to aging. While the symptoms of undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes may be minimal, the high blood sugars may be causing irreparable damage, leading to other chronic diseases.

Diabetes increases the risk of cardiac disease and strokes. It’s the number one cause of kidney failure. It’s also the leading cause of blindness in adults 20 to 74 years of age. More than 60 percent of non-traumatic, lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

When it comes to diabetes, ignorance is not bliss. Learning you may be at risk, or are diabetic, is why it is so important to have an annual physical with blood work. Early detection and diagnosis can help prevent some of these long-term complications of diabetes.

Some other tips to help decrease the risk of long-term complications include:

- Keeping blood pressure less than 130/80
- Keeping A1c , a 3-month average of blood glucose, less than 6.5, which is an equivalent to an estimated average glucose of 140 mg/dL
- Keeping  LDL /bad cholesterol less than 100 and HDL/good more than 40 for men and more than 50 for women
- Doing aerobic exercise for 150 minutes per week to reduce risk. Walking 30 minutes most days would work, or the minutes could be split into 10 minute walks after each meal.
- Making healthy food choices including fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase fiber intake. Fiber is very important in helping to control blood glucose and lower cholesterol.
- Medication also may be necessary to help control blood glucose.

With holidays on the way, this often means special high fat and sugary treats and parties. Diabetics can find it very difficult to follow their usual routine. Pre-diabetics may be pushed to dangerous glucose levels and not even know it.

In an effort to support those with diabetes and pre-diabetes, Verde Valley Medical Center’s Diabetes Support Group will be addressing holiday challenges in the next two monthly meetings.

The topic for Oct. 25 will be Healthy Holiday Cooking. VVMC’s chefs will be developing several healthier versions of holiday favorites. They will give a cooking demonstration of these recipes along with free tastes. There also will be a registered dietitian available to answer questions on how to make holiday eating more healthful.

On Nov. 22, Wally Reule, owner of SedonaFit will be featured. He will be discussing the importance of exercise in helping control blood sugar and sharing tips on how to make time for exercise during the holiday season.

For more information on these programs, or to register for either one, please contact the Diabetes Educators, 928-639-6346.

Mary May, RN, CDE, has been a nurse for more than 30 years and a diabetes educator for 10. She provides inpatient and outpatient diabetes education at VVMC and is part of the “Living Well with Diabetes,” teaching team. May also facilitates VVMC’s Diabetes Support Group.

 



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