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November is Diabetes Awareness Month: Learn the Facts

11/29/2013

It is estimated that nearly 26 million Americans – more than 8 percent of the population – have diabetes and approximately 79 million more adults have pre-diabetes, which increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time TRICARE beneficiaries can learn more about the disease, its symptoms, treatment and how to help those who live with it. 

Having diabetes means a person’s blood glucose or blood sugar is higher than normal. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar. Type 1 diabetics do not make insulin and need to take insulin shots to control their blood sugars. Type 2 diabetics – about 90 to 95 percent of diabetes diagnosed in adults is type 2 – either do not make enough insulin or their bodies use the insulin they produce ineffectively. Type 2 diabetics may require medications in addition to insulin, but many do not require insulin and are able to control their blood sugars with other medications. In either case, all people with diabetes will benefit from making healthy food choices, reaching and maintaining healthy weight, and being in physical active on most days of the week.

TRICARE covers screenings for type 2 diabetes, as well as testing supplies, medications and disease management training when necessary. A doctor or primary care manager can conduct screenings, answer any questions, explain what a diagnosis means and provide details about treatment.

While preparing for the holidays and the potential of over-indulgence that can sometimes occur, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several tips for diabetics and their family members so they can enjoy the holiday season and be incident free:

  • Before traveling, eat a healthy snack to avoid overeating
  • Ask in advance which foods will be prepared and bring a healthy dish if necessary
  • For buffet style eating, after fixing a plate move away from the food as quickly as possible
  • Avoid drinking extra calories and sugar, choose sparkling water or diet drinks
  • Limit alcohol intake and eat while drinking
  • Watch the salt
  • Remember to pack all medications and emergency kits
  • Focus on friends, family and activities - instead of food

The CDC offers many other tips at Managing Your Diabetes During the Holidays. TRICARE beneficiaries should also keep their health plan and doctor’s contact information handy if they’re traveling. For more information about getting care when traveling, visit www.tricare.mil/GettingCare/Traveling.

Last Updated 4/15/2014