Expand your knowledge of diabetes

Nearly every person has a family member or friend who has been affected by diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. An additional 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes or what is commonly referred to as borderline diabetes.

Diabetes is the fastest-growing health care crisis of the 21st century. Type 2 diabetes is not only increasing rapidly among adults, but we are seeing it more in our children, as well. For every baby born in the United States, one in three will face a future with type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include family history; weight gain (central obesity); age (over 40); high blood pressure; elevated cholesterol (increased LDL and decreased HDL levels); certain races such as African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans; and a history of gestational diabetes.

All individuals with diabetes do not experience symptoms, which can delay the diagnosis. Some individuals with type 2 diabetes can have elevated sugar levels for three to five years prior to diagnosis. Classic symptoms of elevated blood glucose levels are frequent urination, dry mouth/extreme thirst, extreme tiredness, extreme hunger, blurred vision, sores and cuts not healing properly, and pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs and feet.

If you or someone you know is suffering from diabetes, there are resources available that can help. Blount Memorial Hospital’s Diabetes Management Center is a recognized program by the ADA. To receive ADA recognition, a program is required to meet the 10 National Standards for Diabetes Education. Blount Memorial’s Diabetes Management Center also is staffed by five certified diabetes educators, including two registered nurses and three registered dietitians.

In conjunction with American Diabetes Month, the Diabetes Management Center will be hosting its annual Diabetes Services Fair on Monday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Blount Memorial Hospital auditorium. This free community event hosts several representatives from Blount Memorial Hospital, physician offices, community agencies and pharmaceutical companies. Refreshments will be served, and free meters will be distributed.

The Diabetes Services Fair is one opportunity the Diabetes Management Center has to raise awareness of diabetes and its complications. This fair provides a wonderful opportunity for participants to not only learn more about diabetes self-care and its complications, but other services offered by the hospital and community.

The fair is designed to bring diabetes awareness to the community, and to bring awareness about other available health care programs, as well. This event also emphasizes to the community that diabetes affects all areas of your body and that effective diabetes education is multi-faceted.

Admission is free, but registration is required. In addition, attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to Blount Memorial’s Harvest Food Drive. Businesses are asked to pay a participation fee, which is placed in a fund for diabetes and weight management patients who are financially unable to attend the program. For more information about diabetes or to make a reservation to attend the Diabetes Services Fair, call 865-977-5767. Participants must register by Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Dawn Hollaway is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and program coordinator for the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center.

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