November is National Diabetes Month. This is an opportunity for communities to focus on this serious health condition by encouraging and educating individuals with diabetes to better care for themselves for improved quality of life. In addition, it is an important time to educate family members of their role in supporting individuals with diabetes, as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of their own increased risk of developing diabetes. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, a program of the National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is a family affair. Many individuals are unaware that having a mother, father, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes increases their risk of developing diabetes, especially if they have additional risk factors such as being overweight, physical inactivity, elevated blood pressure, and advancing age. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making healthier food choices and increasing physical activity, leading to weight reduction. A modest weight loss of 5-10 percent can create significant health improvement in several important health markers, such as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose (sugar).
For individuals with existing diabetes, vigilance is important. Diabetes is a serious disease that does not stop. The effects of uncontrolled blood glucose work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Therefore, it is important to keep blood glucose optimally controlled at all times. According to the American Diabetes Association, uncontrolled diabetes can damage many body parts, leading to heart attacks, stroke, amputations, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. Unfortunately, this damage occurs slowly over many years in the body and many diabetics are unaware of the damage that is being done because the effects such as heart attack, kidney failure and nerve damage don't appear immediately. Therefore, keeping blood glucose in good control and obtaining the recommended screenings is extremely important. Many diabetics are too lax about their blood glucose control. Often times I see patients who either don't check their blood sugars at all, stating that they "feel fine," or who may not check them at a time that will allow them to compare their readings to the recommended ranges.
The American Diabetes Association recommends pre-meal blood glucose of 70-130 mg/dL; and blood glucose less than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Individuals are encouraged to talk with their physician about their blood glucose goals to determine if this range is appropriate for them. I also recommend that all diabetics meet with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator at least once to gain a good handle on diabetes and how to keep it in good control, especially if they are newly diagnosed.
To learn more about diabetes, recommended screenings, and how to prevent or delay complications, I would like to invite individuals to attend the "Living Well with Diabetes" Lunch and Learn on Thursday, Nov. 17th from noon to 1 p.m. at Baraga County Memorial Hospital. This presentation will be given by myself, Pam Dove, MS, RD, CDE. Cost of the session is $5 and includes lunch. To register for the session, call 906-524-3322. Early registration is recommended as seating is limited. For additional information on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.
Editor's note:?Pam Dove is a Community Health Coordinator and registered dietitian at Baraga County Memorial Hospital.