November is National Diabetes Month

By Kalynne M. Defever

Communications Coordinator for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

OSCEOLA COUNTY — More than 25.8 million Americans — or about 8.3 percent of the U.S. population — have diabetes, and it is estimated that one in four people with diabetes don’t know they even have the disease.

In the state of Michigan, it is estimated that 9.2 percent — or 758,300 — of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, while an additional 250,200 adults are currently undiagnosed. If left undiagnosed or untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.

This November, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is encouraging people with diabetes to "act today, to change tomorrow," in order to prevent diabetes-related health complications down the road. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, causing more than 40 percent of all kidney failure cases. The good news is that people with diabetes can lower their chance of having diabetes-related health problems by managing through these four steps:

Step 1: Learn about diabetes through knowing exactly what diabetes is, understanding that you are the most important member of your health care team, how to take your diabetes seriously, why you should take care of your diabetes.

Step 2: Knowing your diabetes ABC’S: A is for the A1C test. This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar (glucose) level over the past three months. B is for Blood pressure. C is for Cholesterol. S is for stopping smoking.

Step 3: Learn how to live with diabetes. Coping with your diabetes, eating well, being active, knowing what to do every day and talking to your health care team are all important aspects to living with diabetes.

Step 4: Get routine care to stay healthy. Make sure to see your health care team at least twice a year to find and treat any problems early on.

Acting today can change your life tomorrow and help manage diabetes. Even if you don’t have diabetes, being a support system for your family or friends that do have diabetes is very important. Diabetes is a hard disease to handle alone and having a supportive loved one can help.

“Many people do not understand that having diabetes can affect many parts of the body and is associated with serious complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and stroke, blindness, and more,” said Dr. Art Franke, Senior Vice President of Programs and Chief Science Officer at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. “Managing the ABCs of diabetes can help prevent diabetes-related health complications.”