“You have diabetes.”
With those words often come feelings of fear, anxiety and questions about
the diagnosis. What does this mean? How do I manage this? What happens now?
One in 10 people in North Carolina is living with diabetes. In Iredell
County, the disease is listed as the seventh leading cause of death. Medical
treatment and healthy habits can give patients better odds at avoiding
complications, like loss of eyesight, loss of limbs and kidney damage.
The lifestyle changes can feel overwhelming at first. That's why Iredell
Health System offers education and support at the Iredell Wellness and
Diabetes Center in Troutman. It is the only care center for diabetes patients
in Iredell County recognized by the American Diabetes Association. For
patients, it’s a place to learn more about their diagnosis and how
they can take charge of their health.
“Diabetes is a serious condition that you must manage long term.
It’s all about managing your lifestyle so you can live well with
diabetes,” said Misty Kerr, Corporate Wellness Coordinator for Iredell
Health System who oversees the Iredell Wellness and Diabetes Center.
The program is making an impact in Iredell County. Recent statistics show
a drop in diabetes deaths in Iredell County since 1999, three years after
the center achieved its certification from the American Diabetes Association.
Since 2004, the death rate from diabetes in Iredell County has also fallen
below the state average.
According to Kerr, most clients at the center have Type 2 diabetes, which
develops later in life and affects the way the body processes sugar. Risk
factors include family history, excess weight, dietary choices and a sedentary
lifestyle. The center also helps people with Type 1 diabetes and gestational
diabetes, which develops during pregnancy.
Care begins with a one-on-one session with a diabetes educator or a registered
nurse. Next, clients meet with a dietitian and receive a custom meal plan.
“Nutrition is a huge factor in managing diabetes well. Counting carbohydrates
and being mindful of how our body processes sugars are important in making
healthy choices to keep your blood sugar at an optimal range,” said Kerr.
The staff at the Center help clients set and achieve attainable goals over
the course of the 10 hour program.
"One program outcome goal is eating breakfast within one hour after
waking. Once individuals learn the importance of fueling their body, that
behavior seems to be modified fairly easily," Kerr said. "Things
like reading food labels, by the end of the course that becomes second
After individual sessions, clients attend group classes. Together, they
learn about portion control and incorporating exercise into their lives.
A supportive environment, Kerr said, is an important key to success. The
Center provides that support, and gives patients the education they need
Warning signs of diabetes include increased thirst, dry mouth, slow healing
and fatigue. If you think you may be at risk of developing diabetes, contact
your physician about referring you to the Center, or call 704-878-4550
for more information.