Local doctor talks preventative measures during National Diabetes Awareness Month

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a disease that according to the DHHR, affects 1 in 8 West Virginians.

Dr. Elizabeth Nelson, with the Beckley ARH Southern West Virginia Clinic, focuses on preventive measures for those in the prediabetes phase. This is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose diabetes. 

There are two different types of diabetes. Dr. Nelson says Type 1 is typically diagnosed earlier in life as it occurs when a body no longer can produce insulin on its own. A person receives a Type 2 diagnosis later in life as it typically occurs in response to heredity and unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Symptoms for Type 1 and Type 2 include frequent thirst, hunger and urination.

Dr. Nelson says there is not much she can do about heredity, but there are measures that can reverse the course of the disease like diet and exercise once someone is in the prediabetes phase. She also says it is key for people to attend their follow-up appointments. 

“I often see that patients will avoid going to the doctor because they’ve been eating poorly. So instead of making that follow up appointment and seeing their doctor they say, ‘Oh I’ve just been eating awful. It’s the holidays. I’m not going to go see my doctor until January,'” she said. “Meanwhile, they’ve skipped an appointment that may have been the difference managing their weight, managing their cholesterol.”

She says she is seeing success in getting people back on track who are prediabetic and wants to remind everyone that being prediabetic does not mean they’re destined to get diabetes. She says it can be reversed. 

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.