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FOR RELEASE: November 21 , 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, the time to emphasize the important message that diabetes is a serious, common, and costly disease. More than 378,800 Oklahoma adults are faced with this life-threatening disease, and there are many more that are undiagnosed. Oklahoma ranked the 9th highest in diabetes death rates in the nation for the year 2003. Therefore, it is especially important for Oklahomans to become aware of the signs and symptoms of this serious disease.
Diabetes is a long-term disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin made is not well used by the body. This lack of insulin can lead to diabetes. Some common warning signs of diabetes may include:

  • Frequent thirst or hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling tired or lack of energy
  • Slow healing cuts or sores
  • Blurred vision, or dry, itchy skin

There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, and is not preventable.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and it can be prevented. In Type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

The third type of diabetes is called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes happens when a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. If not controlled, gestational diabetes can cause the baby to grow extra large and leads to problems with delivery for the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after the pregnancy ends. About half of women with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Out-of-control diabetes can lead to serious complications. “Controlling your diabetes involves learning about diabetes, managing your diabetes by controlling your A1c levels, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol, along with receiving routine care,” said Adeline Yerkes, chief of the Chronic Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health. Yerkes offered the following ABCs for diabetes:

A is for the A1c test. -- It shows how well your blood glucose has been controlled over the last three months. It should be checked at least twice a year. The goal for most people is a reading less than 7. High blood glucose levels can harm your kidneys, feet, and eyes.

B is for blood pressure. – The goal for most people is 130/80. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. It can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.

C is for cholesterol. – The LDL goal for most people is less than 100. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or a stroke.

“People with diabetes need to eat right, stay active, take their medication, and manage their blood glucose daily. They need to keep their blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control,” Yerkes emphasized.

Complications of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include cardiovascular disease (heart disease), retinopathy (blindness), neuropathy (nerve damage), and nephropathy (kidney damage). Complications can also be life threatening. To prevent complications from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes consider the following:

  • Control your blood glucose levels by managing food intake, exercise, and regulating insulin or other medication.
  • Stay active most days of the week.
  • Eat low fat meals that are high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.
  • Keep your weight in control.
  • Get a dilated eye exam, comprehensive foot exam, and lipid profile every year.
  • Get you hemoglobin A1c levels checked at least twice a year.
  • Ask your doctor about influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.

For more information about diabetes, please contact your health care provider or the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Diabetes Control and Prevention Program at 405-271-4072.

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