Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: November 2016 - Take Charge of Your Diabetes

    November 09, 2016

    Take Charge of Your Diabetes

    Diabetes is a disease that happens when your blood sugar (blood glucose) is too high. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood can cause serious problems, like heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems (like blindness), or kidney failure. Take charge of your diabetes and prevent bigger health issues.

    There is no cure for diabetes. It is best to prevent getting the disease in the first place by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

    What are the signs of diabetes?

    • Being very thirsty and very hungry
    • Urinating often
    • Feeling very tired
    • Losing weight without trying
    • Sores that heal slowly
    • Dry, itchy skin
    • Feeling “pins and needles” in your feet, or losing all feeling in your feet
    • Blurry eyesight

    What are the types of diabetes?

    • Type 1: In Type 1, your body no longer makes insulin, which is what helps your body turn sugar into energy. You need to get that insulin in another way, usually through injections.
    • Type 2: In Type 2, diabetes often occurs due to obesity. Your body is not doing a good job turning sugar into energy - it needs help making enough insulin. To help with this, people take pills or insulin shots.
    • Gestational: This type of diabetes happens when a woman is pregnant. The hormones of pregnancy sometimes change the way your body makes and uses insulin. It usually goes away when the baby is born, but the mother is at higher risk to get diabetes later in life

    You can take charge of your diabetes by paying attention to the ABCs of diabetes care:

    A is for A1c. This blood test also called A1c (or HbA1c level) tells you your average blood sugar levels over 3 months. If you have an A1c level of 6.5 % or higher, you have diabetes. If you have a level between 5.7% and 6.4%, you are pre-diabetic. Test your A1c often so you and your doctor can check to see how your treatment is going and prevent future problems.

    A is for albuminuria. It is a test that tells you if you have protein in your urine. It can predict if you will develop kidney problems.

    A is for aspirin. A low dose of aspirin each day can help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

    B is for blood pressure. Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard. High blood pressure can give you eye and kidney problems.

    C is for cholesterol. This is a general term that includes LDL (low-density lipoproteins, bad cholesterol) and HDL (high density lipoproteins, good cholesterol). Too high of an LDL level and too low of an HDL level can increase your risk of having heart disease or stroke. Eating right, exercising and taking medicine can help control this.

    D is for diabetes education. The more you know about how food, exercise and medicine affect your diabetes, the better you and your doctor can manage it.

    D is for dental care. People with diabetes are prone to gum problems. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day and go for check-ups.

    E is for eye exam. People with diabetes often have problem with their eyes. Retinal eye exams can catch eye disease early and prevent blindness. If you have diabetes, you need to go for an examination at least once a year.

    F is for foot care. Check your feet every day. People with diabetes sometimes can’t feel their feet. If you can’t feel your feet, you can’t tell when something is wrong with them. Also, your feet should be examined when you visit your doctor.

    G is for glucose (sugar). Keeping your sugar under control prevents problems. If you know when your blood sugar gets too high or too low, it is easier to know what the right treatment is.

    H is for staying healthy. Get the flu shot and the pneumonia shot so you don’t get sick.

    I is for identifying special medical needs. Talk to your doctor at each visit about your health concerns. Your doctor can then spot trouble early and get you the help you need.

    Lifestyle Changes

    Along with taking your medications, lifestyle changes may improve your quality of life as well as preventing additional health problems.

    • STOP SMOKING!
    • Eat healthy foods that are lower in fat and high in fiber. Reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you drink.
    • Move more. Try for 30 minutes a day, either all at once or in 10 minute sessions, 3 times a day. Brisk walking is a good place to start.
    • Keep your weight in a healthy range. Your doctor can help you.

    You can take charge of your diabetes

    To learn more: American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/; 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)

    Sources:

    ABCs Source: Adapted from the American Diabetes Association, "For Great Diabetes Care, Remember your ABCs!" http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/21/3/134

    Mayo Clinic. “Diseases and Conditions: Diabetes”: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/definition/con-20033091  

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Diabetes”: www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes

    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Types of Diabetes: www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/types  


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