WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and experts encourage both the diagnosed and undiagnosed to stay aware.

Belinda Childs is the executive director of the Great Plains Diabetes Center and a diabetes nurse specialist. For those diagnosed, she says education is the most important thing.

“Diabetes education is the most powerful tool, even more than medication, because if the individual is educated and understands the disease and understands the necessity of meal planning, exercise, how those interrelate with their medications, it’s going to make a world of difference,” Childs said.

For those undiagnosed, Childs says it’s important to get screened if you have a family history, have a sedentary lifestyle or are overweight because those are some of the risk factors. Paying attention and getting screened can help you catch it early. For type one, early intervention can delay the disease. For type two, you can make lifestyle changes.

“Benefits of finding out early that you might be at risk for diabetes is that, as I noted, you can prevent it by taking action to lower your weight, increase your physical activity,” Childs said.

Linda Lathem has lived with diabetes for the last 12 years, and she has a strong family history of the disease.

“It’s just constant,” Lathem said. “It’s just a constant. One day, you can do everything just perfect. Your numbers are great. You can do the exact same thing the next day, and they’re not.”

She encourages people to pay attention to their family history and get screened.

“You can always be the first one because it can be lifestyle-induced,” Lathem said. “Just take care of yourself, and if you’re not feeling good, get checked.”

The Great Plains Diabetes Center has a free screening event on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the WSU Metropolitan Complex.