MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Each November, communities across the country observe National Diabetes Month to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. Diabetes is a disease in which glucose (sugar) builds up in the bloodstream because the body does not produce or properly use insulin.
Nationally, 30.3 million Americans are estimated to have diabetes and more than 84 million adults have prediabetes. According to the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an estimated 14.5 percent of Alabama adults reported being told they had diabetes (excluding gestational diabetes). Alabama ranks higher than the national median of 11.0 percent. In 2017, diabetes was the 8th leading cause of death in Alabama.
The Diabetes Branch of the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) works in collaboration with many other programs within and outside the department to help people delay or prevent development of diabetes and to reduce complications related to the disease. Diabetes-related complications can be serious, costly and deadly. They include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage (chronic kidney disease and kidney failure), blindness and amputations of the legs and feet. Diabetes-related complications are more likely and more severe among people whose diabetes is not well managed and those who have had diabetes over a long period of time.
During November the ADPH will debunk myths about diabetes and educate the public on the changing face of diabetes in the 21st century through its website and through its social media by promoting “Sugar Shock Facts.”
The good news is there are programs available in Alabama to help prevent individuals from developing the disease and assist those diagnosed with diabetes to better manage their health. Diabetes prevention and diabetes self-management education (DSME) programs are available throughout the state and can help reduce the burden caused by the disease. These programs are proven effective for those who regularly attend.
The ADPH website has information regarding these programs, along with numerous other resources, at alabamapublichealth.gov/diabetes. To access information about available programs, including a map featuring sites throughout the state, click the “Prevention” link in the left-hand column. For information on DSME sites, select the “Self-Management Education” link. Also, the website offers an online prediabetes risk test to help determine whether a person is at risk of developing the disease.