Conquering diabetes in Highland County


November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Shala Shupert, public health nurse at the Highland County Health Department, said that, “The number of Highland County residents living with diabetes is higher than both the national and state averages. Hemoglobin A1C and fingerstick blood glucose readings are great ways to detect diabetes and prediabetes or see how well controlled your diabetes is.”

A Hemoglobin A1C is collected by a blood draw and provides a three-month average of the amount of sugar in your blood. The health department likes to see these numbers below 5.9%. Blood glucose readings are collected by a finger stick and show the amount of sugar in your blood at the time of the test. To ensure accurate readings, this test should be completed while fasting (nothing to eat or drink besides water for 12 hours) and be below 100.

The Highland County Health Department is offering free Hemoglobin A1C screening services to county residents on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last, for the rest of November. Appointments can be made by calling the office at 937-393-1941 or online at

According to the CDC, over 133 million Americans are currently living with diabetes or prediabetes. When an individual has diabetes, their body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin effectively. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of the disease, making up approximately 90% of all cases. This type is often diagnosed as an adult or during late childhood.

Other forms of diabetes include Type 1, which is normally diagnosed in children, and gestational, which occurs during pregnancy. There is currently no cure for diabetes, and no known prevention measures for type one diabetes. Management methods for this disease include prevention in Type 2 and gestational, early detection, medication and healthy lifestyles. Uncontrolled/undetected diabetes can lead to various health concerns including heart disease, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage and other problems with feet, oral health, vision, hearing and mental health

Your chance of developing prediabetes and/or Type 2 Diabetes increases with age, obesity, family history and lack of physical activity. The best way to prevent/manage the disease is by obtaining and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a variety from all food groups, and participating in regular physical activity. Developing a healthy life style doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by drinking water instead of sugary drinks, stocking the pantry with healthy snacks, and taking daily walks.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include urinating a lot, extreme thirst and hunger, slow healing wounds, feeling tired, weight loss without trying, vision changes, and numbness in hands or feet.

Erin Mustard, director of nursing at the health department, stated that “These screenings are a great way to see if you are at risk for or should be concerned about Type 2 Diabetes. If you or someone you know is looking for community resources for diabetes, please contact our office. This is not the only health awareness event we will be doing, so be sure to check our social media pages, website and the newspaper for updates.”

Submitted by Erin Mustard, director of nursing​, Highland County Health Department.

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