A Primer on Diabetes for National Diabetes Awareness Month

Debbie Jones-Shook, a Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator at the GBMC at Hunt Valley practice, writes about diabetes education and prevention tips.


More than half of all Americans will have diabetes or prediabetes by the year 2020.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report projecting that one in three Americans would have diabetes by 2050.  Are you at risk?  There is no time like the present to think about it, November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Greater Baltimore Medical Associates physician practices of GBMC HealthCare (http://www.gbmc.org/template_jq.cfm?id=96) encourage self management education for diabetes.  We promote early detection and education/disease management.  Our nurse care managers meet one on one with patients to identify risks and barriers and work collaboratively with the healthcare team to provide comprehensive care for patients.  At the GBMC at Hunt Valley practice, we offer bi-monthly shared medical visits for diabetes patients which include information on healthy eating, being active, taking medications, monitoring diabetes, problem solving, healthy coping and risk reduction. 
Risk factors for diabetes include people:

  • With an impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
  • Age 45 or older
  • With a family history of diabetes
  • Who are overweight and/or do not exercise regularly
  • Who have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
  • Who have high blood pressure


Certain racial and ethnic groups (e.g., Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives), women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing nine pounds or more are also more susceptible to becoming diabetic.
It is important to recognize not only the risk factors for diabetes but the symptoms of diabetes as well.  Symptoms of Type 1, juvenile diabetes, and gestational diabetes  include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability


Symptoms of type 2, commonly referred to as adult onset, diabetes include:

  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections


If you have one or more of these diabetes symptoms, see your healthcare provider right away.  Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes. The complications associated with diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease (Neuropathy), and limb amputation.
Small lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes or control your Type 2 diabetes if you already have the disease – such as following a well balanced diet, increasing your level of physical activity (a minimum of 150 minutes per week) , and maintaining a healthy weight. With these positive steps, you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes.   

Debbie Jones-Shook is a Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator at the GBMC at Hunt Valley practice.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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