American Diabetes Month

November marks American Diabetes Month and, this year, it’s happening along with an early onset of the flu season.

In Virginia, more than 740,000 people are at a higher risk of severe complications from the flu that can lead to hospitalization or sometimes death, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent flu seasons, about 30 percent of adults with flu in hospitals had diabetes.

People who have diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, stroke or other problems such as kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.

Diabetes Month also is an opportunity to learn more about the disease and the challenges of managing diabetes.

Virginia’s plan to help fight diabetes includes federal money to take part in the National Diabetes Prevention Program. It’s a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. The program helps make it easier for people at risk for type 2 diabetes to participate in programs that help them reduce their risk through healthy habits.

Those diagnosed with diabetes can get help through Diabetes Self Management Education and Support programs. The DSMES services help diabetics learn about taking medicines, planning healthy meals, and being active. Diabetes care and education specialists work with diabetics on a plan that works for them. To learn about the types of diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website.

One in three Virginians has prediabetes, and most do not know it. To learn whether you are at risk for prediabetes, take the Prediabetes Risk Test. Prediabetes can be reversed before it becomes Type 2 Diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program, funded by private and public institutions (and free to you), that focuses on lifestyle change. For help finding a program, visit the Virginia Diabetes Council’s website.