Human resources

Awareness, Resources Help People With Diabetes | Featured Columnist

November was first proclaimed National Diabetes Awareness Month in 1975. It is now a month-long recognition, with World Diabetes Day falling on November 14th.

It is a special time for people with diabetes, their loved ones, diabetes care and education specialists, healthcare providers and diabetes advocates as the world pays attention to the disease in which they are dived daily.

We want to invite you today into the world of diabetes to increase your awareness of the disease, support those who suffer from it, and help reduce its prevalence.

In the United States, one in 10 adults lives with diabetes, but here in eastern North Carolina, that number jumps to one in eight. One in four adults over 65 are living with the disease.

With so many people affected by diabetes, we hear a lot about it, but are we immune to it? Do we really think about the effect this has on our day to day life?

The cost of diabetes in the United States is $ 327 billion per year. This includes direct costs such as medications, doctor visits and hospitalizations, as well as indirect costs such as lost work time.

While this number is staggering, the real cost of diabetes is the cost to the health of our country.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than others. Along with hypertension, diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure leading to dialysis. Additionally, 60 percent of all amputations are performed on people with diabetes.

These are sobering facts. It may seem that a diagnosis of diabetes is a death sentence or at least a punishment. However, it does not have to be so.

Complications of diabetes such as blindness, kidney disease and amputations can be delayed or avoided with optimal blood sugar control.

The goal is to maintain an A1C level below 7%. Early diagnosis of diabetes and the monitoring and ongoing care of this disease are essential for achieving good blood sugar control.

If you or someone you know has diabetes, take steps to make sure their blood sugar is in the right range. The specific action steps needed may be different for different people.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of disease, with 90-95% of all diabetes cases being type 2. Although type 1 diabetes is often overlooked as it only accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes. cases of diabetes, it can be a particularly difficult disease that affects the daily lifestyle of people.

Healthy eating and physical activity are the cornerstones of type 2 diabetes care, and medications, including insulin, may also be needed. With type 1 diabetes, insulin is always needed.

Consistent administration of balanced insulin with healthy eating habits, activity, and blood sugar monitoring can work together to keep blood sugar levels manageable for people with type 1 diabetes. However, none of the above. is not easy. People living with diabetes need education and support to help them on their journey.

There are several resources in Pitt County to help people with diabetes. Recognized diabetes self-management education programs are currently offered at the Pitt County Department of Health, ECU physicians, and the Vidant Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.

These groups offer lessons on key behaviors for managing diabetes: healthy eating, physical activity, medication, monitoring, healthy coping, problem solving, and risk reduction.

Support groups for people with diabetes are held each month in two different locations. A session is hosted by the Pitt County Health Department at 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Another session takes place at 5.30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month via Vidant Wellness.

Currently, these two sessions are virtual due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19. However, it is expected that in-person support groups will resume as soon as possible.

Another wonderful resource for the community is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Diabetes Prevention Program offering. This program is specially designed for those living with prediabetes or who are at high risk of developing diabetes.

Not sure if you are at risk? Take the ADA risk test at www.diabetes.org/risk-test. Common risk factors include being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes, physical inactivity, age, race, etc.

If you are at risk, enroll in a DPP program today to learn how to eat better, move more, and help prevent type 2 diabetes. DPP programs are currently available at the following locations in Pitt County : Pitt County Health Department, ECU Physicians, Vidant Health and York Memorial AME Church. For other locations and information on DPP, visit: www.diabetesfreenc.com.

As we head into the holidays, please be mindful of the health of not only yourself but others. Help spread the word about diabetes and let’s come together to help prevent and manage this disease.

Pitt Partners for Health (PPH) is a community health improvement partnership with representatives from local churches, businesses, communities, hospital, health department and other social service agencies.

The mission of the partnership is to improve the health of the people of Pitt County through the formation of coalitions and partnerships. PPH meets on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, contact Mary Hall mhall@vidanthhealth.com.

Angie Watson is the Diabetes Program Coordinator in the Pitt County Department of Health and is part of the Healthy Living Team for Pitt Partners for Health.