The Fight Against Diabetes Starts With Awareness

By StGeorgesUniversity
November 22, 2016

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to stay informed about a disease that affects 29 million people in the United States, and hundreds of millions more across the globe.[1][2] Awareness is especially important to dealing with this epidemic, as approximately one third of those suffering from diabetes don’t know they have the disease.[3]

“Diabetes” refers to a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. There are three general forms of the illness: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational diabetes.

Only about 5 percent of diabetes patients suffer from Type 1 — a form of the disease that can’t be prevented.[4] These patients can’t produce insulin, making it impossible for their cells to absorb the glucose in their blood.[5]

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Patients with this condition either fail to produce sufficient insulin, or become resistant to insulin’s effects. This results in abnormally high blood-glucose levels — a state called “hyperglycemia.”[6] Type 2 can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Gestational diabetes occurs when women develop high blood-sugar levels during pregnancy. The symptoms are similar to those of Type 2 diabetes, and the condition is most often diagnosed during prenatal screenings.[7]

Diabetes significantly increases one’s risk for a host of medical complications, and can sometimes lead to kidney failure and even blindness.[8]

Those suffering from diabetes can manage their illness by maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthily, and engaging in physical activity to stay fit.[9] Those same habits are also proven strategies for preventing Type 2 diabetes.[10]

Here at St. George’s University, we are taking steps to improve our community’s understanding of diabetes by producing short, informational videos on ways to prevent and manage the disease.[11] For 2016, our focus was on raising awareness of peripheral neuropathy which reduces sensation especially in lower limbs, leads to injuries, gangrenous infections and often amputations if not fatal consequences. St. George‚Äôs University developed a Touch Toe Test (TTT) campaign for persons to use their index fingers and assess toe sensitivity of at risk people. The TTT campaign has led to the identification of diabetics with peripheral neuropathy who will be closely monitored and follow up for the foot care and towards preventing diabetic association limb amputations.

We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Health in Grenada as well as community based organizations including Grenada Association for Retired Persons (GARP), Grenada Diabetes Association and the Ministry of Education to develop and implement programs that educate community members and students about chronic diseases like diabetes and encourage healthy behavior including diet and physical activity.[12]

Diabetes Awareness Month is a perfect time to get more informed about this disease — and to engage everyone to commit to a healthier, more active lifestyle all year round.

[1] http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/adm/adm-2016-fact-sheet.pdf

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20130826174444/http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

[3] http://www.joslin.org/info/10_Things_You_Might_Not_Know_About_Diabetes.html

[4] http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/

[5] http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/

[6] http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/

[7] https://web.archive.org/web/20130826174444/http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

[8] http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/tc/diabetes-differences-between-type-1-and-2-topic-overview

[9] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-communication-programs/ndep/partnership-community-outreach/national-diabetes-month/managing-diabetes/Pages/default.aspx

[10] http://www.joslin.org/info/10_Things_You_Might_Not_Know_About_Diabetes.html

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO4UHLGQdVk&feature=plcp

[12] http://www.sgu.edu/news-events/news-archives11-sport-health-launched-grenada.html

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