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April 22, 2014 > Free Class Gives Tools to Help Manage Disease Affecting Millions of Americans

Free Class Gives Tools to Help Manage Disease Affecting Millions of Americans

Learn the truth about insulin and how to manage diabetes

Diabetes affects a huge portion of our population. The latest statistics show 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 7 million have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also estimates 35 percent of adults 20 or older, including 50 percent of people over 64, have pre-diabetes. This means another 79 million are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

As a staff nurse II providing direct patient care in Washington HospitalÕs Medical-Surgical unit, Andrea Waters, R.N., sees the effects of diabetes on many of her patients. Waters grew up in Fremont and has been a nurse at Washington Hospital for nine years.

ÒI see a lot of people with complications from diabetes,Ó she said. ÒThese problems are often the result of having uncontrolled blood sugars over a long period of time. This can cause damage to different areas of the body, such as the heart, eyes or kidneys.Ó

The good news is, with the right education and support, most people can keep blood sugar levels under control and manage their diabetes.
Free diabetes class
On Thursday, May 1 at 7 p.m., Waters will lead a class on diabetes that is free and open to the public. ItÕs part of a monthly series of education classes called Diabetes Matters, which is sponsored by Washington HospitalÕs Outpatient Diabetes Center.

Called ÒInsulin: Everything You Want to Know but Are Afraid to Ask,Ó the class will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in the Washington West building next to Washington Hospital at 2500 Mowry Ave. in Fremont. For more information, call (510) 745-6556. To make an online reservation on the class, go to

The session will focus on the essential hormone insulin. Most people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes have a condition called insulin resistance.

The importance of insulin
ÒOur bodies need insulin,Ó relates Waters. ÒWhen we eat and digest food, it breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose or sugar, which is our bodyÕs main energy source. Normally, our pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream, and the insulin tells the cells in our body to allow the glucose in.Ó

For people who have diabetes, there is some type of malfunction with the insulin, Waters added. Either their body doesnÕt give off enough insulin, as with type 1 diabetes, or the cells are less responsive to the insulin, which is the case with type 2 diabetes.

ÒDuring the class, weÕre going to dispel some of the myths about insulin, such as the misconception that once someone with diabetes starts taking insulin, they will have to be on it forever,Ó Waters stated.

She explained that, when people are first diagnosed with diabetes, some need regular insulin injections to help control their blood sugar. But, once they get their blood sugar levels into the normal range, they may be able to transition to an oral medication. Lifestyle changes, such as the right diet and regular exercise, can help. For some people, however, it may be necessary to continue taking insulin.

ÒI want to make sure people realize that, even if they have to take insulin, diabetes can be a very manageable disease,Ó Waters emphasized. ÒAt this class and others that are part of the Diabetes Matters series, we give people the tools to take control of their diabetes.Ó

Helping others with diabetes
If you are a family member or friend of someone with diabetes, you are also welcome to attend this and other Diabetes Matters classes. For one thing, Waters pointed out, it will help you recognize signs that may occur if your loved one suffers from low blood sugar, which can be a lethal condition.

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, can occur if the person with diabetes takes too much insulin relative to the level of glucose in their blood steam. This can cause the blood sugar level to drop too far.

ÒSymptoms of hypoglycemia are shakiness, sweatiness, clamminess, fatigue, weakness, headache, nausea and irritability,Ó Waters advised. ÒIf someone with diabetes has these symptoms, they should check their blood glucose level right away.Ó

According to the American Diabetes Association, if someone with diabetes has hypoglycemic symptoms and a glucose tests shows a blood sugar level of less than 70 milligram per deciliter, or if the person is unable to check their glucose, they should consume 15 to 20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates.

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Learn more
To learn more about the Diabetes Matters classes at Washington Hospital, visit For more information about the Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center, including links to additional diabetes resources, go to
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