Diabetes awareness important

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 4, 2002

I appreciate it when readers suggest subjects on which I can write. Recently a reader called my attention to the fact that I let the &uot;American Diabetes Month,&uot; which was November, pass by without any mention. To make up for this oversight, and since I gave &uot;Breast Cancer Awareness Month&uot; good coverage, I contacted Judy Walls, the community health educator at Obici Hospital. She is also a certified diabetes educator. She gave me some input on the disease and sent some interesting information.

Walls has been diabetic for 21 years and was at Obici in the mid- 90s to educate my late husband, James, when he became a victim of it. Therefore, I know what it is like to live with a diabetic. Walls said that it is important for family and friends to give support and to take an interest in what a diabetic is living with as well as to help him with the changes that he will have to make in his diet.

She also sent these important facts about the disease.

Email newsletter signup

Diabetes is a silent disease, meaning one can live with it for years without even knowing it. Often victims suffer substantial damage to their eyes, nerves and kidneys before discovering the ailment.

Your risk for the disease goes up as you get older. Excess weight and lack of exercise are also contributing factors. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Most people with diabetes do not notice any symptoms; however, if you have any of these symptoms listed below, contact your health care provider right away.

Among the usual symptoms are thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss.

There is no such thing as &uot;just a touch of sugar.&uot; Diabetes is a serious disease, whether or not you take insulin. Without warning, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, or stroke. Research shows that the closer to normal that you keep your blood sugar the less likely you are to develop other serious health problems.

There are two kinds of diabetes -Type I and Type II.

Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes requires insulin treatment. Many people with Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes control their disease through a healthy meal plan and exercise. Sometimes pills, insulin shots or both are needed to help them manage their disease. However, check with your health care team about the best treatment for you.

People with diabetes need ongoing medical care. Your health care team will work with you to develop a diabetes management plan that fits your lifestyle. They need to meet with you from time to time to watch your progress and check for warning signs of complications.

Regular exercise can help you control your blood sugar, reach or maintain your desired weight and protect your heart. Check with your health care team before starting any exercise program and attend classes to learn about what insulin is and its different types.

The mission of the American Diabetes Association is to prevent and to cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by the disease. For more information call 1-800-Diabetes or 1-800-342-2383.

A series of classes designed for people with diabetes and their families is held from 2-5 p.m.

every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Obici to educate people about diabetes. On the first day the class gives an overview of diabetes, the second day deals with meal planning and the third day deals with medications that are used in the treatment. In this class blood glucose monitoring is also included.

For more information on diabetes, contact Walls at 934-4879.

Classes are informative and sometimes fun. About two weeks ago I attended a class on hormone replacement, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. The session was about two hours long but covered a lot of ground. Information motivated me to get tested for arthritis and I found out that I did not have it. However, I still plan on getting a bone density test because this was another major subject also covered. These classes really make you want to learn more about your body and how to take care of it. Two competent doctors, a gynecologist and a bone specialist, gave lectures and they answered all questions.

At the conclusion, a raffle drawing with prizes took place, refreshments were served and valuable information was passed out to those attending.

Dr. Diana Hicks, OB/GYN and Dr. David Goss, an orthopaedics specialist, gave lectures and answered questions.

Walls has been conducting classes for a long time and I was pleased with the class I attended with my husband in the mid-90s. I’m also sure that she is more than capable today of answering any question that those attending may want to know about diabetes since she has been living with the disease for a long time.

She will be featured in the Question and Answer Column on Saturday so that you can get to know her a little better and Sylvester Jones, also a diabetic, has agreed to share with our readers his experience in living with the disease for over 30 years.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer for the News-Herald.