By Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE
A 9 year-old elementary student recently mailed me a list of diabetes-related questions for a science project. Aside from the endearing misspelled words, the questions were universal:
- What is diabetes?
- How do you get it?
- Can it kill you?
As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I was thrilled to participate. Although diabetes is in epidemic proportions, the general public and health care professionals alike are in need of accurate information about the disease.
So what is diabetes? The World Health Organization has a neon-clear standard for diagnosis: a fasting blood glucose more than 125 on two separate occasions, or a one time reading more than 200, regardless of food consumed. In my clinical practice, I’ve observed health care providers disregard this standard.
How do you get it? Research points to heredity and certain environmental triggers.
Can it kill you? Diabetes is controllable. If ignored, complications are likely. What can you do?
Find out if you are at risk. Take the Defeat Diabetes Screening Test by visiting www.DefeatDiabetes.org/screeningtest.htm to learn about your risk.
Get tested. Many people have no symptoms and a simple blood test will determine your glucose level. Ask for copies of your laboratory results.
If you have diabetes, have you had education about it? Managing diabetes is a challenge. Diabetes educators are a specialty group of nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, physicians, social workers and exercise specialists who help people with diabetes stay healthy and out of the hospital. You can find a CDE in your area by calling your local hospital or visiting www.aadenet.org/FindAnEduc/index.html.
Youth can teach us a lot. It is good to ask questions.