Posts Tagged ‘tests to monitor diabetes’

There is increasing awareness to conduct blood sugar testing or blood glucose testing in order to determine if you have diabetes.  There are two blood tests that are used in addition to an exam by your physician:

Fasting Glucose Blood Test : Fasting values are usually high in diabetes.  Certain drugs, such as thyroid, diuretic and birth control pills as well as recent intake of food, can elevate glucose levels.

Hemoglobin A1C Blood Test : Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to this fraction of hemoglobin, and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and according to its value, one can obtain the average blood sugar during the previous 8 to 12 weeks.

 

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Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes experienced some degree of prediabetes:  their blood glucose values or A1c values were higher than normal but not high enough to be considered as diabetes.  Early action, including diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, can positively affect your blood sugar levels.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the inability to regulate blood sugar.  The hormone insulin moves glucose (sugar) for energy.  When the body cannot produce enough insulin, or the cells don’t use insulin effectively, then excess glucose remains in the blood stream. There is NO CURE for diabetes but it can be managed successfully by diet, exercise, prescribed medication, etc.  It’s important to avoid the complications of diabetes which is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, vision loss, kidney disease and other serious complications.

Myths about Diabetes (from American Diabetes Association)

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.

Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages include beverages like:

  • regular soda
  • fruit punch
  • fruit drinks
  • energy drinks
  • sports drinks
  • sweet tea
  • other sugary drinks.

These will raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!

See for yourself:

  • Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar!
  • One cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.

Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan. What is important is the portion size. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. The key is portions. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods per meal is about right. Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Fact: No. Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.

Fact: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan. Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Diabetes Lab Tests: Order These Important Tests

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If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, it is very important to monitor your blood sugar levels.  Below are a list of tests that are recommended for people with diabetes.  Talk to your health provider to discuss how frequently you should get these tests and to address your results with a plan of action to keep your diabetes under control.

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  •  A1c Blood Test – The blood test shows the average amount of glucose (sugar) that is in your blood during the past 2-3 months.  This test provides an indicator on how well your glucose is being managed.
  • Glucose (sugar)– Fasting values are usually high in diabetes. Certain drugs, such as thyroid, diuretic, and birth control pills as well as recent intake of food, can elevate glucose levels.
  • Blood Lipid Test – This blood test checks for various fats in your blood such as LDL, HDL, cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Kidney Function Test – Diabetes can damage the kidneys this test screens for kidney problems before they become severe.

Keep your diabetes under control in order to prevent or delay damage caused by high blood sugar.  Order your own blood tests to monitor your sugar.  The typical costs for each of these tests is relatively small.  All three tests should cost you less than $99* and can easily be ordered online with results ready for review by the next day.  Take control of your health today.
Take control of your health.

* Note – current special for Diabetes Tests: A1c, Microalbumin, Lipid, CMP is $99 at the time of this posting

 

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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Cataracts – Potential Causes

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eyeball image

What is a Cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the lens, typically from a buildup of protein, that can impair vision.  Almost half of all Americans that are 65 years or older have cataracts which prevents light from passing through the lens ultimately causing some loss of vision.

There is not an effective drug therapy to prevent cataracts but those that smoke cigarettes, take certain medications, have had previous eye injury, excess exposure to sunlight, are diabetic or obese can increase their risk of cataracts. 

Decreasing Your Risks for Cataracts:

  1. Stop smoking as smoking may reduce the nutrients in the blood that are needed to maintain lens health.
  2. Wean yourself from corticosteroids, if your physician advises.  A study of individuals taking 15 mg oral prednisone for 1-2 years, 80% developed cataracts.
  3. Wear sunglasses and avoid the sun.  Prolonged exposure to UV radiation in sunlight more than doubles the risk of cataracts.
  4. Regulate your blood sugar.  Those with diabetes are at increased risk to get cataracts.
  5. Lose weight.  The link to obesity and cataracts is unclear, but studies show that maintaining a proper weight may reduce cataract formation by decreasing blood glucose levels.

What are Symptoms of Cataracts:

Since cataracts develop slowly, you may not notice the symptoms right away.  Symptoms can include:

  • blurry, foggy or cloudy vision
  • changes in the way color is seen
  • difficulty driving at night especially glare from headlights, streetlights and rain
  • double vision
  • sudden change in eye glasses or contact lens prescription

Treatments for Cataracts:

The least invasive treatment for cataracts is a new eyeglass prescription or magnifiers to help the individual see better.  However, cataract surgery is the most successful at restoring vision and is performed quite frequently.  The prognosis of cataract surgery is great:  most surgery recipients regain vision between 20/20 and 20/40.

What does the surgeon do?

The surgeon removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a intraoccular plastic lens.  The advances of these lens help patients correct vision for near/far sightedness and can also offer UV protection to avoid damage to the retina.

Most patients have improved vision within days after the surgery and the eye is completely healed within 6 weeks.

Interestingly, people who underwent cataract surgery lowered their risk of hip fracture according to a study in JAMA.  Visual impairment is a high predictor of an increased risk of fractures as sight provides information for postural balance and stability.  With a cloudy lens, the risk for falling can increase.

Take Control of your Health!

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.

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