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GIBSON CITY - There are 29 million people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes, so it's likely everyone knows someone who is affected.

You can’t tell if someone has the disease just by looking at them. Many people don’t feel any different until they have symptoms of diabetic complications, such as numbness, tingling or pain in the feet or lower legs, vision changes or heart trouble. The problem is, when symptoms like these develop, possible damage to the body has already occurred.

That is why health care providers strongly encourage people with diabetes to take very good care of themselves. Diabetes damages nerves and blood vessels, which are found everywhere in the body. When damaged, other health problems can occur, including nerve disorders, heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, loss of vision and poor circulation. These conditions greatly impact the health of the person with diabetes.

The good news is that eating healthy, being active, taking medications as needed and getting routine checkups have all been shown to greatly reduce the chances of suffering these long-term complications.

Gibson Area Hospital provides many valuable resources for people with diabetes. A certified diabetes educator is available to help people with diabetes understand their disease and their treatment plan, as well as identify strategies to make it easier to recognize and deal with related conditions. In addition, Gibson Area Hospital has a registered dietitian who not only teaches people about healthy eating choices, but also helps create menus that people can live with.

Because diabetes touches every aspect of life, a diabetes support group was formed at Gibson Area Hospital to bring together people who are experiencing similar lifestyle changes as they manage their disease. In addition to offering social and behavioral support, the group, led by a certified diabetes educator, brings in experts in different specialties to explore diabetes-related issues and answer questions. These learning opportunities help individuals gain more control when dealing with diabetes.

The Diabetes Support Group meets 7 to 8 p.m. the second Thursday of each month, except for December and January, in the hospital's radiology waiting room.  

The Advanced Wound Healing Clinic, also located at Gibson Area Hospital, is available for those with diabetes who have an open sore that is not healing. Not only does the clinic provide immediate care for the wound that is already present to help avoid infection and promote healing, the staff also provides education about preventative measures that people can take to prevent more sores from developing.

For more information, please contact Certified Diabetes Educator Eileen Woolums, RN, BSN, CDE, at 217-784-4093, or Sheree Stachura, JD, BSN, LHRM, WCC, RN-BC, director, Advanced Wound Healing Clinic, Outpatient Clinic and Cardiopulmonary Rehab, at 217-784-2776.

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