November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and throughout the nation, communities come together to raise diabetes awareness. Diabetes has been a public health epidemic in Kentucky since 2020, according to the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin, the insulin produced does not function properly, or both. Diabetes raises blood glucose/blood sugar levels, which can damage the body, according to Kelly Dawes, Health Educator and Enhanced Diabetes Service Provider with the Pennyrile Health District.

Dawes stated that diabetes can lead to heart attacks, strokes, eye disease, kidney disease, lower extremity amputation, nerve damage, complicated pregnancy, dental disease, and an increased risk of other diseases such as flu and pneumonia.

“Thirst, hunger, unexplained tiredness, more urination than usual, blurred vision, sores that won’t heal, dry itchy skin are some symptoms that one may need to be diagnosed but many people have no symptoms,” said Dawes.

According to the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, one in every seven adults (474,500) has diabetes, and 158,200 adults are estimated to have diabetes but are undiagnosed.

Dawes also defined Pre-Diabetes as a blood sugar level that is higher than normal but not high enough to be diabetes.

According to the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, one in every nine adults (331,335) have diagnosed prediabetes and 812,000 adults are estimated to have prediabetes but are undiagnosed.

“Diabetes can be managed by healthy eating, being active, taking diabetes medication and problem solving for high and low blood sugar can reduce risks for long term complications,” said Dawes.

Diabetes can be avoided through healthy eating, physical activity, and weight management, and people over the age of 45 should have their blood sugar levels checked.

“Contact your local health department to learn tips to help you take care of your prediabetes/diabetes and decrease your risk for long term complications including attending the online or in-person Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support series, also the Diabetes Prevention Program,” shared Dawes.

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