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November is National Diabetes Awareness month, understanding the disease is key to treatment

Understanding the disease is the key to effective treatment of diabetes. (Photo from UK Healthcare)

Dr. Simon Fisher
University of Kentucky

November is recognized as National Diabetes Awareness Month. It is an opportunity to bring attention to diabetes and help people better understand and treat this deadly disease.  

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose levels are too high. It affects about 37 million Americans, including adults and youth. It disproportionally affects people in Kentucky (474,456 or 1 in 7). Diabetes can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart, and is linked to some types of cancer.

Understanding diabetes and working closely with your healthcare team is extremely important in managing your diabetes. Here are some tips to help.

Learn about Diabetes – Learning about diabetes and how it affects your body is important in knowing what steps to take to care for yourself and what care works best for you. Talk to your primary care doctor and learn how to best manage your blood sugar levels and meet your goals.

Take control as soon as possible – Research has shown that acting soon after being diagnosed can help prevent diabetes-related complications such as kidney disease, vision loss, heart disease, and stroke. Managing your diet, medications and overall health over the long term can help limit the risk of developing diabetes complications. 

Build your healthcare team – For individuals with diabetes it is important to have a strong healthcare team consisting of your primary care doctor, a nutritionist, and a diabetes educator to tailor to your specific diabetes needs. Talk to your primary care doctor about recommendations or any other further care you may need. If your blood sugar control remains sub-optimal, consider obtaining a consultation with a diabetes care specialist or Endocrinologist.

• Create healthy habits – Eating healthy, staying active, achieving optimal weight, getting enough sleep, and limiting stress can 1) be extremely beneficial to your overall health, 2) limit the risks of further diabetes-related health problems, and 3) help you to manage your diabetes.

Simon Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., is acting director of University of Kentucky HealthCare’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center

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