Support is available for those with diabetes

There are more than 20 million children and adults in the U.S. living with diabetes and another 54 million people at risk for developing the disease. Diabetes is a disease that results from a person's blood glucose levels being too high. Glucose comes from the foods we eat and insulin is a natural hormone in the body that helps our glucose give energy to our cells. Individuals with the disease have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes, a person's body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, a person's body does not make enough or does not use insulin efficiently causing glucose to stay in the blood. Over time, if diabetes is not properly treated, having too much glucose in the blood can damage eyes, kidneys and nerves. It also can cause heart disease, stroke and even the risk of losing a limb.

The American Diabetes Association continually is striving to advance diabetes education through research, information and advocacy efforts. One of the many ways diabetes educators are trying to reach out to the Flagstaff community is through a diabetes support group. The group is striving to be the "voice of the community" by helping diabetic individuals and their loved ones work with diabetes educators from Flagstaff Medical Center. This program is fast becoming a success.

By attending the meetings, people living with the disease can gain insight from educators and others on self-care topics ranging from meal planning, insulin options and healthy day-to-day management of diabetes. The goals of the educators include:

• Being supportive

• Providing educational and up-to-date information

• Providing dynamic and motivational speakers

• Providing additional diabetes resources

• Listening and addressing concerns so all meetings are effective

By attending the interactive and informal diabetes support group, individuals can learn how to live healthier lives and keep from developing diabetes-related health conditions over time. The free meetings are held on the last Monday of every month from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Thorpe Park Community and Senior Center. For more information, please call 226-0807.

Jan Karberg is the diabetes support group facilitator and Wendy Bourne is a diabetes educator at Flagstaff Medical Center. Is there a health topic you'd like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o Flagstaff Medical Center, Public Relations, 1200 North Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit www.FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com. For more information, please see your physician.

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