William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes is a serious disease, but many people with diabetes live long, normal lives. With healthy habits, you can control the disease and continue doing the things you like to do.
There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1: Type 1 diabetes happens when the body’s immune system destroys the pancreas cells. The pancreas is an organ in the body that produces and releases hormones, such as insulin. Since with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not working well, people with this condition have to take insulin. It usually affects children and young adults. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes at this time
Type 2: Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or the cells are unable to use the insulin that is made. Generally, this disease happens to people who are older, obese, do not exercise, and/or have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, working out more, and eating healthy can reduce the development of diabetes by 58%. Among adults 60 and older, these strategies reduce diabetes by 71%.
To find out more, come to the Patient Education Resource Center (PERC) at the Madison VA and speak with our local nurses on how to prevent, manage, and/or control your diabetes.
Patient Education Resource Center
Madison VA Hospital/ 1st floor A-Wing
8:00-4:00pm Monday thru Friday
Signs and Symptoms:
How do you know if you’re diabetic? Here are some signs and symptoms that may give you some clues:
- Increased urination
- Diabetic neuropathy – no sensation on your feet or a tingling feeling in your feet
- Blurred vision
- A sore that does not heal
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Dry mouth
- Frequent yeast infections
If you have any of these signs or symptoms or are concerned in general, please contact your health care provider to get a lab test scheduled to diagnose your condition.
Handling Your Diabetes:
If you do have diabetes, you can still live a normal and healthy life. There are different treatment options including medication and life style changes. For medication options, you must speak with your provider. Here are some life style change options for you to consider when managing your diabetes:
- Check your blood pressure: The VA supplies machines to check your blood pressure. If your pressure is higher than 130/180, you should talk to your provider.
- Eat low-salt, low fat foods: This will help to keep your heart healthy, and control your fats and lipids.
- Get some exercise most days of the week: Dropping a few pounds can significantly affect your diabetes. In some cases, people who lose a lot of weight, end up not needing to take their diabetic medications any longer.
- Relax: Stay calm! This will keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking affects your heart, causing an increase in your blood pressure which affects your diabetes.
- Take your medication: Be sure you know the when to take your medications, the amount to take, and how to take the medication. Please speak with your provider about this, because not correctly taking the medications can have some bad health effects.
The Madison VA is here to serve you in your quest to be healthy! Please take advantage of all the services we provide, especially to manage your diabetes care. Thank you!