Diabetes: Increase Your Awareness, Decrease Your Risks
When blood glucose levels rise and remain outside of the normal range, you can develop a disease called diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to other serious health risks. It is important for beneficiaries with diabetes to understand these additional risks and to highlight steps to prevent diabetes for those who don’t.
Many of the foods that we eat are turned into glucose, or sugar, that our bodies use for energy. Our bodies produce insulin which helps to get glucose into our cells. When sugar builds up in our blood and is not processed by insulin either because we don’t make enough insulin or because the insulin that we make is not effective, this can lead to diabetes. A person with pre-diabetes has a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. When you develop diabetes, you are at a greater risk for heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and other serious illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Beneficiaries with diabetes can manage their condition by remembering their ABCs.
“A” stands for the A1C Test; it is different from daily blood sugar tests and measures average blood sugar levels over the past few months. Knowing this number and working with your provider to keep this number below certain levels can help you make sure this number doesn’t increase over time.
“B” is for blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels. If your blood pressure gets too high, it makes your heart work too hard, can injure blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack or stroke, and can damage your kidneys and eyes.
“C” is for cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins, also known as good cholesterol, help remove low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, from your blood. Know what your cholesterol levels are, what they should be, and work with your provider to maintain those numbers. Working with your health care provider is the best way to manage your diabetes.
Even if you have pre-diabetes, you still have the power to prevent or slow the progression of this disease by taking care of yourself. The National Institutes of Health offers some helpful advice and tips; stop smoking, exercise more, make healthy food choices and lose extra weight.
TRICARE covers diabetic supplies through both pharmacy and medical benefits. You can get certain diabetic supplies from a military pharmacy, through home delivery or at any TRICARE network pharmacy. Additionally, certain diabetic supplies are covered as durable medical equipment. For details visit www.tricare.mil/diabeticsupplies.
Beneficiaries with diabetes can continue to live long and healthy lives. With information about your age, race and language, the National Diabetes Education Program offers publications tailored specifically for you to help you beat diabetes. TRICARE beneficiaries can also visit www.tricare.mil/livewell for advice on how to make healthy choices.