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November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and we want to shed light on this serious health condition. Did you know that Veterans are twice as likely to have diabetes, than the general population? Approximately 25% of VA patients have diabetes.
The VA can help fight diabetes. Recent studies show that the Veterans Health Administration excels in diabetes care compared with other health care organizations—scoring 13 percent higher than the national sample.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot produce or properly use insulin. Normally, insulin brings sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells. If the body cannot make insulin or does not respond to it, the sugar stays in the bloodstream. As a result of high blood sugar levels, damage eventually occurs to blood vessels and organs. The organs most commonly affected are the eyes, kidneys and feet.
Common symptoms include:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive hunger
- Frequent urination
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts or bruises that are slow in healing
- Weight loss
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet
Things to prevent diabetes:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form.
- Eat a healthy diet including plenty of vegetables, as well as fruits in moderation. Eat foods that are low in animal fat. Make most or all of your breads and cereals whole grain products. Limit your intake of sweet foods and drinks. Avoid overeating. Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages and make water your beverage of choice.
- Get plenty of exercise. You should do at least 150 minutes each week of moderate–intensity physical activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet and getting lots of physical activity are the keys to doing this. Losing extra weight is especially helpful.
- Take steps to reduce your stress.
If you or a loved one experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your health care provider to rule out diabetes. If you are diagnosed ith diabetes there is medication available to help manage the disease. By taking the proper care you and your loved ones can live healthy lives.
Below are resources that can help you and your family learn more about diabetes.
Resources – (click to open in new tab)
Shelby Ohio Weather Diabetes Section –Living with Diabetes and the weather
Diabetes – Veterans Health Library
Eat Wisely: With a Focus on Diabetes – VA Healthy Living
MOVE! – VA’s Weight Management Program