National Diabetes Month: Tips from a nurse on symptoms and prevention

11.07.2017 | By Jeannie Peng Mansyur

Nov. 16 diabetes awareness event to be held at the Community Education Center

PASADENA, Texas – Diabetes affects 24 million people in the United States. In efforts to combat this disease, National Diabetes Month is observed each November to increase awareness and provide individuals with key information on treatment and prevention.

Diabetes is a disease that impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated glucose levels in the blood and urine. It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association, with an individual diagnosed with the disease every 21 seconds.

Registered nurse Shiela Ford, who also serves as department chair of nursing at San Jacinto College, offers the following information about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

What are the top symptoms of pre-diabetes and diabetes?

Ford: The most common symptoms of diabetes include excessive urination, excessive thirst and excessive hunger. In most instances individuals may not notice symptoms with pre-diabetes. It is often found during physicals in which the Hemoglobin A1c is noted to be elevated. The HgbA1c is a blood test that can be done to indicate what an individual’s blood sugars have been during the last two to three months. Normal range for HgbA1c is between 4 and 5.6 percent. HgbA1c levels between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicate an increased risk for diabetes. Levels at 6.5 percent or higher indicate diabetes.

What age is it most common?

Ford: There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 can occur in juveniles. Therefore, it was once termed Juvenile Diabetes or Brittle Diabetes. Today, it is more commonly referred to as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). Type 2 diabetes more commonly occurs later in life due to excessive weight gain. It is called Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus and can be treated in many cases with exercise, diet modification and/or oral hypoglycemic medications.

How can someone prevent diabetes?

Ford: Type 1 is typically due to the pancreas not creating enough insulin. This condition is managed with insulin. However, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Diabetes doubles the risk of heart attack or stroke and can cause kidney failure, blindness, and lower limb amputation. Research and education have dramatically decreased diabetes-related complications. Prevent Type 2 diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, physical exercise and low carbohydrate diet.

The San Jacinto College Community Education Center will host an event in observance of National Diabetes Month that will include a special guest speaker who will give an overview of the disease, symptoms, treatments and prevention. This event will take place on Nov. 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Central Campus in the Interactive Learning Center, C-1.108. The San Jacinto College Central Campus is located at 8060 Spencer Highway in Pasadena.

Look for additional information about diabetes in November’s issue of Opportunity News inside the Houston Chronicle, as Debra Clarke explains how the disease affects eye health. Clarke is the director of the San Jacinto College eye care technology program.

About San Jacinto College 

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each year benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. 

For more information about San Jacinto College call 281-998-6150, visit or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter..