Published on November 25, 2020

Diabetes Awareness Month

In 2018, 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5 percent of the population, had diabetes. Additionally, 7 million more have diabetes but go undiagnosed. It is also a disease that is the number one cause of blindness, kidney failure, non-traumatic amputations and one of the main leading causes of heart attacks and strokes. Unfortunately, these numbers continues to rise year after year.

November is Diabetes awareness month and as one of the top ten causes of death in the United States, it is vital to raise awareness. Currently, 88 million Americans have prediabetes with 84% of people not knowing they have the disease. It is important to have the conversation about diabetes with your health care provider, especially if you are overweight or obese or have a family history of diabetes.

The first step to understanding diabetes prevention is to understand the different types of diabetes. Dr. Mark Oertel, an endocrinologist with LMH Health, said there are three main type of diabetes: type 2, type 1 and gestational diabetes.

“About 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2, making it the most common,” he said. “Type 2 is where the body makes insulin but the body is resistant to its effects of moving glucose from the blood stream to the body’s cells to use for energy. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood and young adults and it is from lack of insulin production from the pancreas. Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed in pregnancy and can be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes after delivery.”

Diabetes can be very treatable with more treatments coming out each year. Dr. Oertel said he first suggests focusing on lifestyle changes with increasing activity, eating a portion-healthy diet with foods that are rich in nutrition and limiting processed or sugary foods. Diabetic medications are also available and some can assist with weight loss goals and to keep heart and kidney function healthy.

“Though diabetes can be very treatable, it is still the leading cause of death of more people than breast cancer and HIV combined annually,” Dr. Oertel said. “As an endocrinologist, I see some of the worst cases of diabetes and some mild cases as well. Some may think since diabetes is so commonly diagnosed in America it is not that serious. This is far from true, however it is important to note that with proper lifestyle changes, medication and monitoring those with this disease can live long happy lives.”

When it comes to talking about diseases, there are often many misconceptions, especially with diabetes that we have all likely heard about a time or two before. James Florez, Diabetes Education coordinator at LMH Health, said one of the main misconceptions he sees is that if you are diabetic you will eventually end up taking insulin.

“The truth is, that many people can manage type 2 diabetes with just lifestyle alone,” Florez said. “Some will likely need an oral medication to help, but with proper management and a bit of work and focus, taking insulin does not have to be the answer.”

One of the biggest ways to avoid diabetes, besides nutrition and lifestyle modifications, is to have regular check-ups with your primary care provider and having labs such as fasting glucose and cholesterol levels done once a year to help determine whether you have impaired glucose or insulin resistance.

“If you suspect you may have diabetes, I cannot stress enough the importance of contacting your healthcare provider for an evaluation and making lifestyle changes as soon as possible,” he said. “Education can also be vitally important.”

Florez said he encourages every person living with diabetes to attend a diabetes education program. Even if you have attended a formal education class but it has been years ago, it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher course.

“If you can tell, there is a bit of a pattern here,” Florez said. “Improving your overall health can protect you from becoming diabetic if you have prediabetes and can help manage your diabetes. This disease is serious, but all of us at LMH Health are here and ready to help you manage your diabetes so you can live your life to the fullest.”

Diabetes Support Group

The LMH Health Diabetes Education Center is a referral-based clinic that provides comprehensive education for all aspects and types of diabetes. This education includes nutrition therapy for type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The Center's certified team, consisting of registered nurse and a dietitian, provides education in small group sessions.

LMH Health also offers a Diabetes Support Group that meets the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. Due to COVID-19, this group meets via Zoom.

Learn more about the Diabetes Education Center here or call 785-505-3062 today.

-Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.

Diabetes Awareness Month

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