Staying Healthy with Diabetes
Do you or someone you know have diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2022, 37.3 million or 11.3 % of Americans have diabetes, with an estimated 28.7 million having a diagnosis of diabetes, and an estimated 8.5 million people who have it but have not been diagnosed. The incidence of diabetes is rising at an alarming rate worldwide, and is expected to double by 2050 in relation to rising levels of obesity and health inequities.
Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body is unable to create or effectively use the hormone insulin. Insulin is made in the pancreas and is needed to move blood sugar or glucose from the bloodstream to all the body’s cells and tissues for energy. Without adequate insulin, the body’s cells starve, causing high blood sugars and dehydration, and eventually destroying tissues in the feet, heart, kidneys, and eyes. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, blurry vision, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, very dry skin, or tingling in hands and feet. If you have these symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.
The two main types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 occurs when the body does not make insulin and must be supplied by injections or an insulin pump. Type 2 occurs when the body makes less insulin and/or is unable to use insulin properly. Blood sugar levels are controlled by taking medications or insulin as prescribed, blood sugar monitoring, good nutrition, and regular activity. In the United States, 90-95% of people with diabetes have Type 2 and 5-10% have Type 1.
Developing a good relationship with your health care provider is important to help manage diabetes – providers can refer you to professionals such as a diabetes educator, dietitian, or an endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes care. Raymond Kennedy, practice administrator for the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition Institute, shares, “HopeHealth offers high standards of care for our patients with diabetes. Our endocrinologists, nurse practitioner, nurses, dietitians, educators, and staff work as a team to help patients improve their health and quality of life in their daily management of diabetes.”
Diabetes can be very hard on the body over time. The risk of heart attacks and stroke is twice as likely, and not keeping blood sugar levels in the target range can cause medical complications in the feet, heart, kidneys, and eyes. Learning to set up a daily routine and following guidelines can help decrease the risk of complications.
- Blood Sugar – Discuss target ranges and check blood sugar levels as recommended by your provider. Blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, making monitoring important for blood sugar control.
- Medication – Take medication or insulin as prescribed to manage your blood sugar. There are many oral and injectable medications and types of insulin available on the market. Changing medication over time is typically a normal part of the process to manage blood sugar.
- Healthy Eating – Eating a healthy diet of lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in the right portions at the right times and limiting or avoiding highly processed foods like soda, juice, sweets, chips, etc. is beneficial for blood sugar control. Requesting a session with a registered dietitian nutritionist can be helpful to learn how to make these lifestyle changes over time.
- Physical Activity – Being more active is important to benefit blood sugar control and increase circulation. Talk to your provider about what kind of activity is safe for you.
- Foot Check – With less sensation in the feet, a daily foot check will help keep your feet healthy. Let your provider know if you have redness, swelling, sores, cuts, blisters, calluses, or other changes to your skin and nails.
Every 3-6 months
- A1C Test – This is a three-month average of blood sugar readings. If you’re on track with your blood sugar goals, a twice-a-year A1C test is recommended. If levels are too high, having this test every three months is recommended.
- Health Care Provider Visit – If you’re on track with your treatment goals, a check-in every six months is recommended. If there are medical complications, visiting your provider every three months is recommended for a review of medications, blood sugar levels, and any medical changes.
An annual visit in several areas each year will help to avoid long-term complications of diabetes including gum disease, vision problems, foot issues, heart disease, and kidney disease. Often there are no symptoms early on and monitoring annually means fewer complications.
- Dental Visit – Keep teeth and gums healthy with a dental visit at least annually including cleaning and x-rays
- Dilated Eye Exam – Visit an eye doctor annually to make sure your eyes stay healthy
- Complete Foot Check – You may need this more often if you’ve had foot problems
- Kidney Test – A blood draw to check your kidney function is important each year
- Cholesterol Test – It is also important to check cholesterol levels each year
- Flu Shot – People with diabetes are at higher risk of complications with the flu, and having a flu shot can decrease this risk
- Make sure to get pneumonia and hepatitis B shots if you haven’t had them
- Mental Health – Let your provider know if you’re feeling sad, anxious, or depressed so you can get the help you need
- If you have any new symptoms or feel like things are getting worse, contact your provider immediately
Developing a daily routine, finding support from family and friends, and having a good provider relationship are keys to diabetes management. And if you get off track, it’s easier to get back to a healthier routine with good support. Working with your provider, getting regular and annual checkups, and using the tools and knowledge to better manage your blood sugar can help decrease the risk of long-term complications, help you feel better, and build confidence in living a healthy with diabetes.
Are you looking for a provider to guide you in the proper management of your diabetes? HopeHealth’s Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition Institute offers providers, diabetes educators, and registered dietician nutritionists who are dedicated to providing the best in diabetes and nutrition care. Visit hope-health.org or contact the Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition Institute at 843-342-3717 for more information.
Christy Evans is a Diabetes Nurse Practitioner at HopeHealth Medical Plaza who empowers her patients to take control of their health and is accepting new patients. Evans enjoys working with patients to reach their blood glucose measurement goals.