Diabetes Expo on Saturday provides latest ways to manage the disease
Diabetes, which afflicts almost a tenth of the American population, is a serious disease that can result in blindness, amputation, coma, kidney failure and heart failure.
“The message that we want people to know is that none of these complications have to happen as long as you address them early on and you learn what to do to take care of your diabetes,” said Claire Blum, a certified diabetes educator with nonprofit Partners & Peers for Diabetes Care. “You can live every bit as well and healthy with diabetes.”
Blum and crew will expound on that message this Saturday, Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, at their third annual “Diabetes Expo: Healthy Living and Diabetes.” The seminar, free to the public, will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Chattanooga First Church of the Nazarene, 5455 N. Terrace.
Included will be plenty of information: “a learning station blitz” by diabetes educators, tai chi and chef demonstrations, a workshop on phone apps for blood sugar management and a lecture by endocrinologist Dr. David Huffman on what’s new in the field. “What we know is changing,” said Blum. “I learn something new about diabetes every day.”
But just as vital as information is peer support, says Blum. “A very important function of the Diabetes Expo is to help people become aware of other people that actually have to deal with the same struggles,” she said. “People who don’t have diabetes don’t get it.”
Diabetes, she explained, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its pancreatic cells, destroying their ability to manufacture insulin. Insulin is a hormone that moves sucrose from the blood system into the cells. In type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and young people (Blum herself was diagnosed at 17), the body is incapable of making insulin at all.
In type 2 diabetes, by contrast, cells become resistant to insulin intake. “So the body keeps pumping out tons of insulin to make up for that,” said Blum.
Thus the initial problem is too much rather than too little insulin, but: “Basically, the pancreas get tired of having to make that much insulin and just totally wears itself out, and people with type 2 diabetes actually become dependent on insulin, as well,” said Blum.
Caught early on, type 2 diabetes may well be manageable through diet and lifestyle, as opposed to type 1, in which patients have no choice but to obtain insulin through injections or infusions. But Blum warns both types should be taken seriously. “You can no more have a ‘touch of diabetes’ than ‘a touch of pregnancy,’” she said.
“When you’ve got insulin resistance going on, you need to pay attention to it then.”
Chattanooga seems to be paying attention, says Blum, with attendance tripling from the first Diabetes Expo in 2013 to last year’s event
Find a complete schedule of Diabetes Expo 2015 at partnersandpeers.org, or call or email Claire Blum for more information at (423) 505-0558, firstname.lastname@example.org