(BPT) - Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and most (90-95 percent) have type 2 diabetes. Diabetes management isn’t always easy — some people may have difficulty visiting their doctor regularly, eating healthy foods and reaching their A1C goal. That’s why America’s Diabetes Challenge, a program from Merck and the American Diabetes Association, is encouraging people to share their stories about the challenges and successes they’ve faced managing type 2 diabetes or supporting a loved one with the disease.
The program also encourages people with type 2 diabetes to work with their doctor to set and reach their A1C goal (average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months), as well as learn if they’re at risk for low blood glucose, known as hypoglycemia, and how to help reduce that risk.
In 2015, artist Tim McGraw, actress S. Epatha Merkerson and chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz each shared their personal connection to type 2 diabetes, and now they’re calling on people around the country to share their stories too. “Even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes, chances are you know someone who does,” McGraw says. “People can help each other by talking about the steps they’re taking to get to their A1C goal, including challenges or successes they experience.”
Hoping to inspire others with type 2 diabetes, Merkerson has shared her own personal struggles and accomplishments after living with the disease for nearly 14 years. “After my diagnosis, I got serious about my health and worked with my doctor to develop a personalized diabetes management plan,” Merkerson says. “I’m sharing my story as part of America’s Diabetes Challenge and challenge you to do the same. We need to stick together, so share your story with us today and help us to inspire others to make healthy choices.”
America’s Diabetes Challenge plans to identify the most common challenges patients submit and will offer tips to help address them.
As people work with their doctor to create an individualized treatment plan that’s right for them, there are some important tips to keep in mind:
* Both blood glucose self-tests and A1C tests are needed to help a patient and their doctor understand how well blood glucose is being controlled, because these tests measure blood glucose in different ways. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes have an individualized A1C goal; the A1C goal for many adults with diabetes is less than 7 percent. A higher or lower goal may be appropriate for some people.
* Many people with diabetes are aware of the importance of controlling high blood glucose by diet, exercise and taking medicine (if prescribed), but they may not know that blood glucose can also go too low. People should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of both high and low blood glucose, and talk to their doctor if they’re experiencing problems. Some people may be aware that low blood glucose can be caused by skipping meals or exercising excessively, but what they may not know is that certain diabetes medicines could also cause it to go too low.
* Diet and exercise are an important part of any diabetes management program. Tips for making healthier food choices include choosing lean proteins, opting for whole grains and reducing sodium intake.
For more information and to share your story, visit AmericasDiabetesChallenge.com. Additionally, you can find Spanish-language resources at www.DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com. You can also join the America’s Diabetes Challenge community by visiting facebook.com/AmericasDiabetesChallenge.