By Catherine Brown, MS, RD, CDE
Diabetes Education Coordinator
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. The incidence of diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide. In theUnited States, 26 million people have diabetes. That’s 8.3 percent of us. Chances are you know someone with diabetes. Additionally, an estimated 79 million people have pre-diabetes, which means the sugar level in their blood is higher than normal and could lead to diabetes.
Here are a few more statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that paint an even clearer picture of this enormous public health problem:
- Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
- Diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
- By 2050, according to some estimates, as many as 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue, blurry vision, frequent urination and increased thirst. However, many people don’t experience any symptoms, or don’t have symptoms until their blood sugar levels are much too high. To help determine if you are at risk for developing diabetes, take the risk test at http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/alert-day-2011/diabetes-risk-test-english.pdf. Discuss your results with your doctor.
The good news is that a major research study, called the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that the more common type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Performing 150 minutes of exercise per week and reducing calorie and fat intake to lose 7 percent body weight was effective in preventing or delaying diabetes. To learn more about this study, visit http://ndep.nih.gov/media/dpp_factsheet.pdf.
Diabetes is a chronic and costly disease that can lead to kidney disease, eye damage, nerve damage and heart disease if not well controlled. People with diabetes need to adopt several behaviors, such as staying active, eating a healthy diet and monitoring their blood sugar. Usually, they need a team of professionals to help manage the condition. The University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology offers physicians, nurse practitioners, diabetes educators, dietitians, pharmacists, podiatrists and psychiatrists to assist patients. It provides diabetes education classes to help patients better manage their diabetes.
To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, please call 410-328-6584 or visit http://www.umm.edu/diabetes/index.htm. For more information about diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association’s website at http://www.diabetes.org/.