Local health experts stress the importance of diabetes education

diabetes-awareness

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, so 9 On Your Side is taking a closer look at the issue which impacts so many people in eastern North Carolina.

One in 11 Americans has diabetes, yet rates in eastern North Carolina are much higher, sitting at one in every 5.

29 million Americans have diabetes, yet 86 million are at risk for the disease. That’s why local experts say education is so important.

The main issue is type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 to 95% of all cases in the U.S. Risk factors include being overweight and family history.

Managing diabetes is a combination of taking medication and balancing diet and exercise, but local experts say it’s more than that.

“Diabetes is a chronic disease and so you have to deal with it 24/7. And everything you do affects your diabetes and diabetes impacts everything you do. So it helps to have a team and that support and that constant motivation and knowing that you’re not alone,” said Pitt County Diabetes Program Coordinator Joan Mansfield.

Proper management with medication, diet and exercise can actually reverse symptoms of type 2. Yet improper treatment can lead to severe complications like blindness, heart disease, stroke, or even death.

“There’s a lot of shame surrounding type 2 diabetes and individuals thinking that they should have or could have done something differently or made different choices and really it’s about managing the disease, getting treatment once you’re diagnosed so you can avoid those complications,” Mansfield said.

Local experts are stressing education during this awareness month. That’s why the Pitt County Health Department is hosting two conferences this month. The first is the Winning with Diabetes Conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 2 at the East Carolina Heart Institute. There is a $30 registration fee. To register, contact Susan Houston at 252-847-1436. The second is a free diabetes awareness event held at the Pitt County Health Department on Wednesday, November 16 from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact the health department for more information.

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