By Frank Kourt
November is American Diabetes Month, and organizations in Madison County are marking it by stressing awareness, prevention and management.
According to Kim DeCoste, R.N. and certified diabetes educator with the Madison County Health Department’s Diabetes Center of Excellence, recent statistics indicate that about 8.3 percent of the U.S. population is affected by the disease, which is marked by high levels of blood sugar because of the body’s inability to produce or properly use insulin.
The incidence of diabetes in Kentucky is higher than the national average, about 11.4 percent of the population, a statistic experts blame on a sedentary lifestyle and a higher than average obesity rate, DeCoste said. In Madison County, the rate is about 10 percent.
The disease can cause a number of serious health complications, such as heart and eye disease, stroke, kidney disease and nerve damage if not detected and controlled. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
To help with early detection, the Madison County Health Department and the Eastern Kentucky University nursing program will sponsor Diabetes Day, a screening program scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond.
The event, free of charge and open to everyone, will feature free screenings, including glucose, cholesterol and kidney function, which can indicate possible problems. Although the screenings are not intended to diagnose diabetes, if they indicate a possible problem, participants will be referred to their physicians for further evaluation, Decoste said.
The event also will offer a number of other screenings, including diabetic foot checks, blood pressure, balance, body mass index, carbon-monoxide levels and derma scans to assess sun damage to skin, along with several educational booths.
“Everyone is welcome, and you don’t have to be diabetic to attend,” DeCoste said, adding that those interested in the screening event may call her at 623-3462 for more details.
She said some symptoms that may indicate diabetes include excessive urination, blurred vision, feeling tired and excessive thirst and hunger. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all, she said, which is a good reason to be screened.
DeCoste noted that incidence of diabetes tends to increase with age, and noted that Medicare now offers a no-cost annual diabetes screening.
In addition, the Diabetes Center for Excellence in Richmond currently offers free diabetes education classes every month and diabetes prevention classes every other month. Call 623-3462 for more details.
To help raise awareness of diabetes, the EKU Center for the Arts will be illuminated in blue lights on Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, and there will be displays highlighting diabetes awareness at the Madison County Courthouse, Berea City Hall and the EKU arts center.
DeCoste said physical activity and even moderate weight loss can be important factors in preventing and controlling diabetes.
“Studies have shown that even a small reduction in weight can help prevent or control diabetes, as can just 150 minutes of exercise each week,” she said.