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Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015

Diabetes: An Emerging Epidemic

Believe it or not, more than 29 million Americans are affected by diabetes. A whopping 86 million Americans are experiencing “pre-diabetes.” That’s a massive amount of people. In fact, it’s the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 230,000 lives each year. Experts estimate one in every three people will develop diabetes by the year 2050. With numbers like those, it’s important to take a closer look at the emerging diabetes epidemic.

Program coordinator Dawn Hollaway from Blount Memorial Hospital’s Diabetes Management Center says getting a diabetes diagnosis can be extremely difficult. “When patients are first diagnosed with diabetes, they typically are shocked and overwhelmed,” Hollaway said. “Often, they’re in denial, they overloaded with questions and they naturally become afraid. The important thing to remember if you are diagnosed with diabetes is education. At the Diabetes Management Center, we can help individualize diabetes education for our patients. There are certain things we center on, including reminding patients to monitor their blood glucose levels daily, obtain an annual flu shot and dilated eye exam, and see their doctor every three to six months. Of course, if certain conditions arise, such as a temperature greater than 101, vomiting, or any cuts or sores don’t heal properly, the patient will need to consult their doctor more often,” she explained. “At Blount Memorial, our outpatient diabetes program offers daytime and evening diabetes management classes that are recognized by the American Diabetes Association and are covered by most insurance carriers. A physician referral is required, however,” she added.

“Diabetes is, of course, often tied to obesity,” Hollaway said. “As obesity rates have increased, so have diabetes rates, so it’s important for us as a society to begin to address the some of the underlying causes of diabetes as we try to fight diabetes itself. Americans who are obese are nearly three times as likely as those who are not to report having diabetes. It’s important, of course, to remember that there are two types of diabetes, and each has its own unique characteristics. For instance, type 1 diabetes typically arises before a person reaches age 30, while type 2 diabetes, however, typically doesn’t emerge until after age 40. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes usually hinge on a family history of diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a history of gestational diabetes. Certain ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics, also are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes,” she explained. “Whether or not you have one or more of those risk factors, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, which include extreme hunger, intense thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, vision changes and poor healing of wounds or cuts,” she added.

For more information about the diabetes epidemic, join the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center on Monday, Nov. 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Airport Hilton in Alcoa for the Diabetes and Weight Management Expo.

Blount Memorial executive chef Jeff Counts will host a food demonstration, and endocrinologist Dr. Sarah Smith will be the guest speaker for the event. Also, more than 20 vendors will be onsite to answer questions about diabetes and weight management, and there will be door prizes for attendees.

There is no charge for the event, but guests are encouraged to make a $5 donation to the Blount Memorial Diabetes Management Center’s fund for underserved and uninsured patients.

For more information or to register, contact diabetes program coordinator Dawn Hollaway today at 865-977-5767 or by email to

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