COLUMBUS — A disease that’s often overlooked could be the one that ends someone’s life too soon if it’s not detected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of adults, ages 18 and older, diagnosed with diabetes more than tripled from 5.5 million to 19.6 million from 1980 to 2011.
“It’s because of the obesity epidemic. We’re getting heavier and we’re less active. Those are the two things that have increased the numbers tremendously,” said Joan Plummer, Columbus Community Hospital’s diabetes educator and organizer of the Diabetes Awareness Day event.
With the help of CCH, educators were busy getting the word out Tuesday afternoon about this disease at the new Columbus Wellness Center.
“We want to inform people about diabetes and taking care of themselves with diabetes, and if they have it in their family they probably should also be tested to see if they have it since Type 2 diabetes is somewhat hereditary,” Plummer said.
Within Nebraska, the CDC reported an increase of nearly 75,000 new diabetes diagnoses from 1994 to 2013, taking the total to 128,750 adults affected.
According to East Central District Health Department, 9.2 percent of the adults with diabetes in the state live in Platte, Colfax, Nance and Boone counties, something Plummer said is nothing to sweep under the rug.
“There really are no symptoms,” she said. “You may have no symptoms, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t vessel changes.”
Blood vessels are vital for the body and play a key role in diabetes, helping to transport glucose and insulin.
Plummer said the key to prevention lies with an individual’s lifestyle choices.
“Weight and activity are two of the biggest risk factors,” she said.
Plummer said Type 2 diabetes covers 98 percent of diagnoses.
While Type 1 diabetes means the body cannot produce enough insulin, Type 2 means the body does not react properly to the presence of insulin.
Dee Borchers, 71, can remember feeling tired all the time before seeking answers from a doctor.
“I wasn’t surprised I had it, because some of my relatives had it,” she said of her diabetes diagnosis.
But she still had to figure out how the disease worked in her own body.
“It was fine after we got my blood sugar straightened out and my blood pressure straightened out and got pills for all of it and my insulin pump. Now it’s nothing, it’s just another day,” Borchers said.
Borchers said events like Diabetes Awareness Day make life with diabetes a little easier.
From teaching attendees tasty recipes to showing off the newest insulin pump, the event touched on an array of subjects many diabetics have to deal with on a daily basis.
“It’s nice to come here to see what new is going on,” Borchers said. “They have so much stuff out there now that they didn’t used to have when I was first diagnosed.”