Diabetes epidemic rapidly spreading

Amy Lucas, RN, BSN - Diabetes Coordinator

November is National Diabetes Month, and attention is focused on the need to slow the growing “epidemic” of diabetes and prediabetes in the United States.

But what if you already have diabetes? Is there anything in National Diabetes Month for you? Of course, there is! For people who already have diabetes, it’s as good a time as any to take a look at your diabetes management and ask yourself how things are going. Are there areas that need improvement? Are you interested in connecting with other people who have diabetes? Would you like to participate in a diabetes fund-raiser? Would you like to learn something new? Here are some suggestions for making the most of a month devoted to diabetes.

This is a list of 6 things you can do this month to help better manage your diabetes. See how many you can accomplish this month.

1. Commit to a new healthy habit this month: get more sleep; drink more water; inspect your feet every day; floss your teeth once a day; start using a pedometer and increase your steps; or try a new fruit or vegetable.

These healthy habits seem small when you look at the list, however, if you commit to just one of these habits this month, you could see an improvement in your overall health. Which one will you try?

2. Seek out diabetes related activities in your area: Sugar Buddies Support Group sponsored by Sampson Regional Medical Center is held each first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Center for Health and Wellness; Diabetes Self-Management classes are available through Sampson County Health Department; local walk-a thons, health fairs, and other community outreach opportunities related to diabetes are often held in November, watch for fliers or local news articles related to these events.

3. Seek out special Diabetes Month Sales or other offers: Pharmacies and other stores or service providers often have sales or discounts on diabetes-related items during National Diabetes Month. You may find free or low-cost health services such as blood pressure checks or vision screenings, discounts on diabetes supplies, or discounts on coaching or other educational services. Clinton Drug offers free blood glucose checks, as well as educational material related to managing your blood sugar. Matthews Drug also offers free blood glucose checks and free diabetes counseling is offered by their pharmacists. Check with your pharmacy to see if they offer anything during Diabetes Awareness Month.

4. The United States is not the only part of the world affected by diabetes: World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization to draw attention to the growing health threat posed by diabetes everywhere. In 2007, World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day.

To see what events and activities are planned for World Diabetes Day this year, check out the website of the International Diabetes Federation: www.idf.org

5. Learn something new about diabetes: You no doubt already know a lot about diabetes, but why not observe National Diabetes Month by learning something new? Look up something you’ve been wondering about, or browse through a website or book or magazine on diabetes until something catches your eye.

6. Knock something off your diabetes to-do list. Whether your to-do list is in your head or written down, you probably have one. The more specific the items on your list are, the easier it is to do them. If your to-do list has things like “eat better” or “exercise more” on it, find some specific steps that you could easily implement that would bring you closer to these goals. For example, plan a week of healthy lunches and write out a shopping list, then put “go grocery shopping” on your to-do list. In case you don’t have a list, here are some ideas:

• Write out a list of your current medicines and doses. Date it, make a couple of photocopies, and keep a copy with you (in a purse or wallet, for example) in case of a medical emergency or a new prescription.

• Enter your emergency contact numbers into your cell phone.

• Write out some questions for your next visit to your health-care provider.

• Schedule a specialist appointment that you’ve been putting off.

• Put together a sick-day kit. If you’re not sure what to put in it, contact Sampson County Health Department Diabetes Educator for a list.

For Sampson County residents who have diabetes, our health department offers Diabetes Self-Management Education classes. Our program requires a referral from your primary care provider. Once we receive the referral, an assessment will be scheduled, followed by two classes covering topics that help you manage your diabetes. Upon completion of the two classes, we offer a three month follow up appointment to monitor your success, or offer suggestions for improvement. These classes are a collaboration between Sampson County Health Department and Sampson Regional Medical Center. They are held at The Center for Health + Wellness on most third Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, or for assistance with a referral from your provider, contact Sampson County Health Department at 910-592-1131, ext. 4249 or 4240.

Whether you have diabetes or you know someone who has diabetes, November is a good time to shine a light the growing problem and learn what we can all do to help live healthier.

Amy Lucas, RN, BSN

Diabetes Coordinator