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Diabetes: An epidemic in the state of West Virginia

Diabetes: An epidemic in the state of West Virginia

Nov. 3, 2021

By Jhanvee Patel

If you or someone you know has diabetes, you know how difficult it can be to live with the condition. For people who don’t know anyone with diabetes, it is hard to understand not only the physical effects but the mental ones. 

Diabetes is considered an epidemic in the state of West Virginia.

In the United States, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death. According to the CDC, 34 million people in the U.S have diabetes. West Virginia has a greater percentage: 15.7%. We have the highest rate in the country. More than 1 in 10 adults is affected by diabetes in West Virginia. Find more information on West Virginia and diabetes here.

In rural areas of the state, it is difficult to gain access to information and treatment of diabetes. November is American Diabetes Month. Every year, communities affected by diabetes come together to bring awareness to the condition that impacts so many. In West Virginia, the first step in addressing this issue is education.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects the breakdown of sugars in your body. In ds type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to make insulin, which is needed to regulate blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is considered milder and is a result of the body being unable to respond to insulin and breakdown sugar. Prediabetes is a condition where an individual’s blood sugar is consistently high. It can lead to type 2, however, it is also reversible.

After understanding what diabetes is, it is crucial to learn how to prevent and manage diabetes.

There are many risk factors such as having a direct relation with the condition or being overweight. Find a comprehensive list here. Signs of diabetes include increased thirst, urination and hunger. If you are at risk, there are plenty of ways to prevent the onset. The main pointers are to ensure you are physically active and eating healthy. Here are more specific steps you can take to mitigate risks. It is important to see a doctor if you have concerns.

If you are living with someone who has diabetes, it is critical to know how diabetes causes social, psychological, physical and financial distress. While diabetes can be managed, over time complications can arise. Physically, diabetic patients are at increased risk for heart disease, kidney damage and other life-threatening damage.

Psychologically, people with diabetes are at increased risk for depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Patients require having both their mental and physical needs met. Here are some resources for people struggling mentally with diabetes. 

Diabetes can also be costly, which prevents people from treating it. Patients must manage their diet and pay for medication. Here are some tips for saving money if you have diabetes. WVU Medicine has a Diabetes Education Center. Be sure to look for resources and reach out if you or a loved one is affected by diabetes.

Many people with diabetes go undiagnosed because they fear the lifestyle consequences or do not have resources. As a West Virginia resident, during the month of November, educate your community about diabetes. With proper access to information on diabetes, we can work together to decrease West Virginia’s diabetes percentage.

Jhanvee Patel is a public information office intern at Monongalia County Health Department.

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