By Maria Jauhar, M.D.

Since all November is National Diabetes Month, aren’t we overdoing it a bit to designate this week National Diabetes Education Week? Experts on the disease have thought about that and concluded no, this is not overdoing it at all.

The threats from diabetes go from head to foot and from painful to fatal. They range from death by stroke or cardiovascular disease to blindness or chronic pain in the legs and feet.

We’ve written here about the scale of the problem, but maybe some of that bears repeating, too. One in every 11 Americans has diabetes. That rate has tripled since 1980, an epidemic by any reasonable definition.

Education as Medicine

Yet the relentless climb of diabetes rates began to plateau after 2010. The causes of that good news are hard to isolate, but undoubtedly awareness is one of the factors for which we give thanks. So, diabetes education may prove to be among the most efficient and effective treatments for Type 2 diabetes that we have in hand. The American Association of Diabetes Educators has a locator that will help you find out more.

Power to the Patient

Though, yes, heredity plays a role in diabetes, more factors than that are well within our grasp. Sensible exercise, good eating, and monitoring blood sugar levels in our annual or semi-annual checkups put us in a position to avoid Type 2 diabetes in many cases, and to control it if it should arise.

Monitoring – It’s Not Just for Patients Anymore

Staying aware of our blood sugar level and adjusting our eating and activity accordingly is part of a healthy life, even for those of us who have not been diagnosed with diabetes. The onset of the disease is subtle. Healthy people today include glucose levels in their “lab work” for the annual or semi-annual checkup they schedule with their family physician. Paying attention to those readings and discussing them with the doctor just makes sense for all of us in the face of the epidemic diabetes around us.

Learning For Life

Perhaps anyone who is concerned or even interested in getting a life-saving knowledge of diabetes – for one’s self or loved ones – should consider attending one of the personal education classes to which doctors send patients who are at risk, showing signs of pre-diabetes, or who have notched a high glucose reading or two.

The American Diabetes Association’s local program coordinators can direct you to free or low-cost classes that equip diabetics, their families and even people who are becoming concerned about diabetes with what they need to know.

To schedule an appointment with us at Island Family Medical Center for an assessment of your own risk, call 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.