November is Diabetes Awareness Month

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Mechelle Coble
Lincoln Trail District Health Department
Have you noticed that you are more tired lately, more thirsty than usual (dry mouth so you carry water or other beverage with you all the time), going to the bathroom more, maybe eyes straining a little more to see clearly? Could you have diabetes and not know it? Statistics say that about one third of people in the state of Kentucky has diabetes and are unaware of it. Who are these people?  Could it be you? What are your risk factors? Risk factors for diabetes include:  being overweight, not being active, being over 40, having a family history of diabetes, if you are a member of ethnic groups such as African American, Native American, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, Asian, or Appalachian, if you had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth. Wow! A lot of Kentuckians fall into this category that is why one out of every two adults in Kentucky is at increased risk for diabetes. Talk with your doctor about your risks for diabetes.  
If you have diabetes take steps to help manage your diabetes, eat healthy by following a meal plan designed for you, weight management, exercise at least 30-60 minutes a day most days of the week if you are able, take your medication as prescribed, get regular exams (feet, eyes, kidney, blood tests, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) and visit your health care team regularly. Learn your ABC’s of diabetes: A is for A1C, an average of what your blood sugars have been running for the past around three months, B is for blood pressure keep your blood pressure checked and under control, and C is for cholesterol keep it in good control by exercising, eating healthy, and taking medication if needed.
At flu season it is also very important if you have diabetes to get a flu shot, if you can take the flu shot. Diabetes is a chronic illness. People with diabetes have a harder time dealing with the flu because of being less immune and because of also having to deal with higher blood sugars when they are sick.  Along with the flu shot talk with your doctor about the pneumonia vaccine.
Diabetes is serious, costly, and common, but it can be controlled! Work with your health care providers to help you take the steps needed to reduce the risks of complications that go with diabetes. For more information, contact your local health department and your doctor.
Editors note: Mechelle Coble MS, RD, LD, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Lincoln Trail District Health Department. For further information call your local health department.