During the month of November, we observe American Thanksgiving Day, American Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day. Although diabetes is a serious condition, we have made advances in diabetes prevention, treatment and control. This gives us a reason to give thanks.
Diabetes in Pennsylvania
According to the 2014 National Diabetes fact sheet, 29.1 million (9.3 percent) Americans have diabetes, including 8.1 million (27.8 percent) still undiagnosed. Also known is that diabetes affects groups disparately. For example, Latinos are twice as likely to have diabetes than whites.
In 2013, in Pennsylvania, about 11 percent of adults had diabetes. The prevalence is even higher among persons of older age, with less than a high school diploma and lower incomes.
Furthermore, it is estimated that 1 in 3 babies born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime and 1 in 2 if that baby is a minority. This does not have to be the case. Remember, the good news is that diabetes and its complications can be prevented.
There are several ways to diagnose diabetes in a health care setting (doctor’s office or health clinic). Each way usually needs to be repeated on a second day to diagnose diabetes. Three common ways are A1C, Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). A1C test measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. FPG checks your fasting blood glucose levels. OTTG is a two-hour test that checks your blood glucose levels before and two hours after you drink a special sweet drink given by your doctor. It tells the doctor how your body processes glucose.
Talk to your doctor about your diabetes risk and screening needs. Take an online diabetes risk test offered by the American Diabetes Association. You can also attend the various statewide community-based health screenings made available to the public, most at no cost. For example, on Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), Pennsylvania Diabetes Action Partnership (PDAP) is hosting a World Diabetes Day (WDD) event at the State Capitol, East Wing Rotunda.
World Diabetes Day – November 18 at Pennsylvania State Capitol Rotunda
The event is open to the public and free of charge. Health promotion and education materials, goodies bags and screening opportunities (blood sugars, cholesterol and blood pressure) will be available to those who attend regardless of insurance status.
The keynote speakers include Executive Chef Pippa Calland from Mid St8 Taco in Lemoyne; Manuel Torres, owner of El Serrano Peruvian/Mexican/Spanish restaurant in Lancaster; Dr. Renu Joshi from PinnacleHealth; several legislators, local and state leaders; and Dr. Oralia Garcia Dominic – to name a few.
The community is coming together to help increase diabetes awareness. Some folks are even giving items for the goodies bags, which will be given to attendees. For example, Estamos Unidos De Pennsylvania volunteers will provide water bottles and fresh whole fruit from local farmers markets. Contact Dr. Renu Joshi (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you wish to donate items.
You can also help by lighting your homes/businesses/offices the color blue (use light bulbs, holiday lights, window candles, etc.). You can also display a blue ribbon to show your support for diabetes prevention and control. Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center will also be lit in the color blue. Other buildings that will also be lit the color blue include the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Mount Nittany Medical Center as well as the Corner Room and Allen Street Grill in State College – to name just a few.
Local physician and diabetes expert Dr. Renu Joshi at PinnacleHealth says, “Diabetes is a silent killer…the risk of complications is directly proportional to blood sugar control. Be careful because diabetes is the No. 1 cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations.”
She also wants readers to know that obesity is directly related to worsening diabetes. Diet and exercise are keys to keeping your blood glucose under control.
Her advice to her patients and the general public?
“To maintain a healthful weight, avoid obesity and think twice before eating that wonderful cake (junk food), because if you are not careful, it can contribute to damaging your eyes and nerves. You can do it. All it takes is the will power to do it.”
Finally, she invites everyone to come out to the State Capitol on Nov. 18 to find out if you have diabetes or high cholesterol and learn about ways to protect yourself from diabetes.
Diabetes information is also available at the local doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, school nurse’s office, gym and fitness center, pharmacy, health food store, newspaper and on the Internet.
I look forward to seeing you on Nov. 18. Please do your best to protect yourself from diabetes and its complications. You can send your health questions to ¡Hola, Oralia! at email@example.com. Together, we can help keep our residents healthy. ¡Salud!