The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, as of 2018, 122 million people in the U.S. have diabetes or prediabetes. The rate of diabetes among children and teens is increasing. These statistics are sobering.
Diabetes is a serious condition. In severe cases it can lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, amputation, blindness and even death. Adventist Health is committed to helping you avoid diabetes where possible and manage it successfully when necessary.
Diabetes affects your body's ability to either produce or properly use insulin and is categorized into three variations: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational.
- Type 1 Diabetes: Predominantly found in children and adolescents, Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition in which the body has a difficult time producing insulin. Without insulin, the body cannot convert sugar to energy, which is why people with diabetes must receive insulin injections.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes typically occurs in adulthood. This type of diabetes increases your body’s resistance to insulin. Patients with Type 2 diabetes have to closely monitor their blood sugar levels and live a healthy lifestyle.
- Gestational Diabetes: This is the only known temporary form of diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually ends shortly after. However, if you had gestational diabetes than you are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and should take preventative measures.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Diabetes
When a doctor wants to confirm or rule out a diabetes diagnosis, they usually order a Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test. This is a blood test that can measure your average blood sugar levels from the past two to three months. If the test comes back with a high level of hemoglobin, this is usually confirmation that you have diabetes.
Diabetes management needs to begin as soon as you receive a diagnosis. The earlier you learn how to treat diabetes, the easier it will be to carry those lessons through the rest of your life and prevent serious complications.
The most important elements of diabetes treatment include:
- Monitoring blood sugar
- Receiving insulin therapy
- Taking medication to produce insulin or break down carbohydrates
- Receiving a pancreas transplant in severe cases where it is difficult to control diabetes
If you have prediabetes, there is still a chance you can prevent the onset of full diabetes. You and your care team can create an exercise and diet plan that will help your body delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Importance of regular checkups
There’s a lot to do to manage diabetes, from daily self-care to lab tests and visits with your health care team. Here are some of the regular checkups you may need:
Every three-six months
Visit your provider: You should see your provider every three to six months for an exam. Your provider will monitor your blood sugar and change your medications if needed. He or she will also ensure that you are up-to-date on your care. It is OK to ask your provider to check your feet at each visit.
Get a Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C): A Hemoglobin A1C lab test tells your provider what your average blood sugar has been over the last three months. The American Diabetes Association recommends people with diabetes should aim to have an HbA1C of less than 7%. Discuss with your provider what your target number should be.
Twice a year
Visit your dentist: People with diabetes have increased risk for dental problems, so plan to get a dental exam every six months.
Once a year
Get a lipid panel: This test measures your cholesterol levels. Diabetes can lower your “good” cholesterol and increase the “bad” cholesterol, so monitoring your levels is important for your heart health.
Get our eyes screened: People with diabetes are at risk for serious eye problems. Plan to visit your provider and get your eyes checked once a year. In many of our primary care clinics, you can also have your eyes screened using the RetinaVue® camera when you visit your primary care provider. If you have eye problems because of diabetes, you will likely see your eye health provider more often.
Get a foot exam: Your provider should check the pulses in your feet and your reflexes at least once a year. Your provider should also check your feet for calluses, infections, sores and loss of feeling. (If you have had foot ulcers before, you need to see your provider more often for foot exams, about every three to six months.) Check your feet often at home as well. Use a mirror to see the bottoms if needed.
Get kidney function tests: Over time, diabetes can affect the kidneys ability to clean the blood properly and remove extra fluid. These tests will tell your provider how well your kidneys are working and if there are any signs for concern
Benefits of diabetes education
Scientists have not yet determined the cause of diabetes, but both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle play a part in the development the disease.
Studies show that people with diabetes live healthier lives when they have education and support from a healthcare team. Adventist Health’s certified diabetes educators work with you and your doctor, providing the services and support you need so that together we can help control your disease.
We believe knowledge is power. Our hospitals offer courses that teach new skills and give you vital information to help you better manage your condition. Having your diabetes under control allows you to live a healthier and fuller life with fewer complications.
Our group classes also connect you with others who are living with diabetes. This means in addition to lifesaving education, you will get personal motivation and support from people who really understand what you’re going through.
Call (707) 463-7527 to learn more about our services.