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Healthy Monday: Some diabetics miss warning signs
0817HEALTHY
Certified Diabetes Educator Connie Niedermeyer, left, meets with a patient Wednesday afternoon at Lanier Park to discuss lifestyle changes that must be made to help control diabetes.

Diabetes 101

  • What: Full day of information for people with prediabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, plus their family members and friends
  • When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 12; registration begins at 7:30 a.m.
  • Where: Georgia Mountains Center
  • Cost: $15 per person; $20 per person after Sept. 4. Breakfast and lunch included
  • To register: Call the American Diabetes Association, 888-342-2383, ext. 3166

Healthy Monday

Every Monday The Times looks at topics affecting your health.

If you have a topic or issue you would like to see covered in our weekly series, contact senior content editor Edie Rogers via e-mail, erogers@gainesvilletimes.com.

Diabetes is a disease many are familiar with, but few recognize the symptoms in themselves.

Symptoms of diabetes, such as excessive thirst, tingling or numbness in hands or feet and fatigue, are subtle and often are attributed to age or other ailments.

Connie Niedermeyer, a certified diabetes educator with Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said diabetes often goes undiagnosed.

"People think it’s something else," Niedermeyer said. "As we all get older we think, wow I’m just slowing down."

To help teach the community about diabetes, area health care providers are hosting Diabetes 101, an all-day educational event Sept. 12.

Mitzi Lovell, the chairwoman of Diabetes 101, said this year the theme is celebrating life with diabetes.

"We have got a videotape of local people who have had diabetes for a long time," Lovell said. "Our focus this year is celebrating a long healthy life with diabetes."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is a disease that causes the body to have high blood glucose levels. The pancreas creates a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into the cells. Diabetics either don’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin as well as they should, which causes sugar to build up in the blood.

There are two types of diabetes. The most common is Type 2, formerly called adult onset diabetes.

Between 90 and 95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes are Type 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As we get older we’re at risk," Niedermeyer said. "We’re not as active as we were."

Family history, obesity, age and activity level are all risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, Niedermeyer said.

One of the seminars at Diabetes 101 this year will focus on prediabetes.

"These are people who have not been diagnosed with diabetes yet but their fasting blood sugar was between 100 and 125 so they are at risk for developing diabetes," Niedermeyer said.

Normal blood sugar level is 60 to 99 in the morning after fasting through the night.

Niedermeyer said a healthy diet and increased exercise can help reduce the onset of Type II diabetes in some cases.

If uncontrolled, diabetes can cause a number of complications including stroke, heart attack, blindness and kidney problems.

Lovell said education is key for diabetics.

"One thing that’s sad is people can think they feel well and think their diabetes is well-controlled and in reality it’s not and they’re having damage done," Lovell said. "Since diabetes is a self-managed disease that’s why it’s so important for people to get educated."

Niedermeyer said diabetics need to always monitor their blood sugar.

"Even if the numbers are good you still need to keep monitoring," Niedermeyer said.

Regional events