Today is the 25th annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day. It is one day that the ADA asks America to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for the disease. The Diabetes Task Force, which unites diabetes educators, health, and government organizations throughout the county, is also asking Chautauqua County residents to assess their risk.
Why is this important? Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States, and a quarter of them, about 7 million, do not even know they have it. When diabetes is left untreated or not managed, there are many disabling complications which can develop. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.
In addition, there are an estimated 79 million people who have prediabetes. The person with prediabetes has a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that people who know that they are at risk, and who make a few lifestyle changes can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The first step is to know what your risk is. To make it easy, the American Diabetes Association has created a simple test to take. To get your free Diabetes Risk Test, go online to www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES. The test is available online and through the ADA all year long.
Whether you are at risk for diabetes or have diabetes already, the key to staying healthy is to learn how to manage the risk factors, develop long lasting healthy lifestyle habits and master self care behaviors. The best way to do this is by connecting with a specialist who provides this type of education.
If you have been told you have pre-diabetes or if you are a woman and have had gestational diabetes, you are eligible to participate in an evidenced based program which has been successful in helping people decrease their risk for developing diabetes. WCA Hospital will be co-sponsoring the Diabetes Prevention Program with the Chautauqua County Health Network and the P2 Collaborative of WNY. To sign up, call 716-664-8677. You may also contact your healthcare provider for the referral. Sessions will begin April 9..
For those who have diabetes and need more assistance with managing it, contact your healthcare provider and ask for a referral to a Certified Diabetes Educator in your area.
In the meantime, try to participate in regular physical activity, choose healthy foods, take your medications as they are prescribed, follow up as directed with your health care provider and try to achieve a healthy weight. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.