Check your sugar

Published 8:47 pm Saturday, November 5, 2011

November is National Diabetes Month.

Obici holds free diabetes screenings

With Western Tidewater having the highest occurrences of diabetes in Virginia, Sentara Obici Hospital is working with a local endocrinologist to identify people with diabetes.

The hospital is working with Dr. Joseph Aloi, the clinical director of the Eastern Virginia Medical School Sterlitz Diabetes Center, to manage Type 2 diabetes in the area.

The first initiative Obici is taking on is administering free diabetes screenings this month, which is National Diabetes Month.

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Sandra Parker, a certified diabetes educator at Obici, said she hopes the screenings will help people be more aware of monitoring their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

“The hope was with the screenings that we would have individuals that wanted to be more aware of their health status in those three areas,” she said.

The screenings are free and open to the public, and they will take place on Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the second-floor atrium at Obici.

“It’s just a finger prick,” Parker said. “If it does show their sugars are elevated, a follow-up will be connected to it.”

Parker said these screenings can be useful because they can identify people who have diabetes and don’t realize it.

“There’s a large number who do have diabetes and do not know it,” she said. “There’s a lot of people walking around and have no idea they actually have diabetes.”

She said people who have family members with diabetes would benefit from the screenings because they are at higher risk to get the disease.

Additionally, Parker said, people exhibiting symptoms of diabetes, such as fatigue or blurred vision, should be screened as well.

She said diabetes symptoms can often be mistaken for normal occurrences, such as thinking fatigue is just general tiredness.

“If it’s a tiredness that continues constantly, it could be associated with high blood sugars,” Parker said.

Blurred vision is also a common symptom.

“Anyone who has these symptoms, it would be good for them to get checked out too,” she said.

Detection of diabetes can be especially important because the disease can lead to other conditions, such as heart disease.

“We want to help the individuals get the blood sugar under control, so we can avoid the complications,” Parker said.

In addition to the diabetes screenings, the hospital is also having informational sessions during November.

On Nov. 14, Obici will have a discussion on how diabetes and stroke are related in classrooms A and B at 7 p.m.

She said the main goal of all of the hospital’s diabetes programs is to lessen the occurrences of diabetes in Western Tidewater.

“We want to try to decrease the instance of diabetes in the area,” Parker said “We want to turn it around; we don’t want to be number one.”

For more information on the diabetes programs at Obici, contact Sandra Parker at 934-4879.