GREENCASTLE -- Diabetes now affects nearly 81 million Americans, approximately one in four people.
Today, 24 million Americans are known to be living with diabetes. Diabetes is a disease associated with high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production and/or insulin resistance that causes sugar to build up in the body.
Another 57 million people in the United States are estimated to have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetics are at an increased risk for developing diabetes due to higher than desired blood sugar levels. In the past, pre-diabetics were often diagnosed as "border-line" diabetic.
Every 24 hours, 200 people die from diabetes or related complications and 4,000 more are diagnosed with the disease.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower extremity amputations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
November is American Diabetes month. The American Diabetes Association is now predicting, based on current trends, that one-third of all children born today will face a future with diabetes. The ADA is continually working to educate individuals so these trends can be reversed.
"There are very frightening statistics," stated Annette Handy, RN and diabetes educator for Putnam County Hospital. "People need more information and support so that they are able to make the best personal choices regarding their health today and for their future."
Education is the first key in preventing diabetes. Diabetes is not a death sentence, but it does require active involvement from the patient and a partnership with his or her healthcare provider. Proper management and monitoring of blood glucose (A1C), blood pressure and cholesterol can help to increase a person's quality of life.
Learning what the indicators are and what to do is also important in preventing diabetes. Obesity is a major contributing factor in the development of diabetes.
If Body Mass Index (BMI) is at or more than 35, physical activity should be increased. To calculate BMI, divide weight (in pounds) by height (in inches), squared. Take that number and multiply by 703. Or search the Internet for a BMI calculator and input personal numbers.
A healthy weight and intentional physical activity for 30 minutes each day will help lower the risk for developing diabetes.
"Balanced nutrition, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight are always the foundation of good health," Handy added.
Other symptoms of diabetes may include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased fatigue, vision changes and numbness or tingling of the feet or lower extremities. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should contact a primary physician to discuss testing and treatment options.
"If diabetes is diagnosed, it is manageable," Handy said.
Each year, millions of individuals worldwide celebrate World Diabetes Day Saturday, Nov. 14. The event was created to build awareness, increase education and motivate individuals to take an active role in their personal healthcare.
Already diagnosed with diabetes, but having trouble managing blood glucose levels a doctor may recommend speaking with a diabetes educator or dieticians at PCH. A physician's order is required.
Families with children living with diabetes can also seek information and support during the monthly Youth Diabetic Support Group held at the hospital. The group meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. on the third floor (no meeting will be held in December or January).
"Diabetes can be prevented or delayed," Handy emphasized. "Be proactive. Talk with your physician and seek out the information you need to make the best choices for yourself."