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October 19, 2013

Diabetes Awareness Month kicks off in November

For many of us, it is hard to imagine the daily care required to control diabetes. For those with the disease, a normal day consists of constantly monitoring blood sugar levels, coordinating meals, exercising, medications and/or insulin injections.

“Diabetes is rapidly growing and a leading cause of death in the U.S. — impacting nearly 26 million people in the U.S. alone,” says Pat Cooper, vice president for clinical operations at Quorum Health Resources (QHR). “What’s more, an estimated 7 million Americans have the condition but remain undiagnosed.”

High blood sugar symptoms are easy to dismiss. Excessive hunger, increased thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, numbness in hands/feet or a waistline that exceeds 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women — are all causes for concern.

To clarify the urgency of leaving diabetes untreated, Dr. Gene Barrett, president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently introduced the term “pre-diabetes” — describing those individuals with high blood glucose (sugar) who are at risk for developing diabetes. Once a person has full-blown diabetes (Type 2), their bodies either do not make enough insulin or the insulin that they are making does not work properly.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day. The month offers numerous opportunities to get involved locally and nationally to raise awareness.

The cause of diabetes varies, but obesity, inactivity and genetics are generally responsible. The various types of the disease include: type 1, which is typically diagnosed in children under 17-years-old (but has been seen in people who are in their 30s); type 2 (typically seen in patients over 20 years old, but has been diagnosed in children as well) and gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women. Most women with gestational diabetes do not remain diabetic after the baby is born, however they are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

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