Tag Archives: Diabetes

Your Prenatal Care

Your Prenatal Care

If you’re newly pregnant, we can help you make sense of your prenatal care. Prepare for your prenatal visits, tests, and medications you should avoid.

Prenatal Care Visits

Regular prenatal care from your doctor while you’re pregnant is key to the health of you and your baby. You should go to all of these visits, even if you feel fine. They will help you track the progress of your pregnancy and keep your baby healthy. If you’re having a low-risk pregnancy, your schedule will look like this:

  • First Visit – Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you think you’re pregnant to confirm your pregnancy. At this appointment, you can expect to:

    • Review your health history, current health status, and medications
    • Find out your due date
    • Go over possible health risks
    • Have blood and urine tests and a pap smear to make sure you’re healthy and rule out anemia and infections
    • Plan out your future appointments
  • Weeks 4 to 28 – 1 visit a month

  • Weeks 28 to 36 – 2 visits a month

  • Week 36 to Giving Birth – 1 visit a week

Check our Preventive Care Guidelines to see more recommended care and our wellness benefits for more of what’s covered for you during your pregnancy.

Prenatal Tests

During your appointments, you will have certain tests done to make sure you’re healthy and help you know what to expect.


Also called a sonogram, this test is usually done at 18-20 weeks to:

  • Make sure your baby’s growing at a normal rate
  • Confirm your due date
  • Record the baby’s heartbeat
  • Check for more than one baby
  • Find out your baby’s gender if you want

Glucose Screening

This test is usually done at 12 weeks for high-risk pregnancies and at 24-28 weeks for low-risk pregnancies and will tell you if you’ve developed gestational diabetes.

Blood Tests

Regular blood tests can be done at any point during your pregnancy, as recommended by your doctor, to:

  • Determine blood type
  • Screen for:
    • Anemia
    • Diabetes
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Sexually transmitted diseases

Urine Tests

Your doctor will ask you for urine samples, usually at each of your checkups, to test for:

  • Excess protein bacteria
  • Ketones, which can tell you if your body’s not producing enough insulin
  • Signs of gestational diabetes

Medication to Avoid

Make sure you talk to your doctor about the meds you’re currently taking. Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs could harm your baby.

Meds to Avoid

  • Accutane® (isotretinoin, Amnesteem, and Claravis)
  • Soriatane® (acitretin)
  • Thalomid® (thalidomide)

Over-the-Counter Drugs to Avoid

  • Aspirin
  • Advil® (ibuprofen)
  • Herbal supplements
Healthy Resolutions like Fitness

Vantage Point: Healthy Resolutions Without the Cost

What just happened? I blinked, and all of a sudden, it’s 2018! The holidays came and went, and now it’s time to go back to our normal routines. I’m personally excited for spring to get here. I’m over this cold.

As I go back to my routine, I think of what I’m going to do differently this year. It is very cliché, but I really do look back on my previous year and reflect on what I can improve on for 2018. We can improve in every aspect of our life: relationships, work, finances, and health.

We all try to set goals and keep them for the entire year. But sometimes we set unrealistic goals, or we just don’t try hard enough. The most common goal I hear is having a healthier lifestyle. We all have at least one unhealthy habit that we want to kick to the curb. As I get older, I realize it is not about looking good or having “rock hard” abs, it’s about being healthy and strong.

There are so many ways we can have an active lifestyle. Many people would join a gym to reach that goal, but what happens if you can’t afford a gym membership? And the older we get, the harder it is to do heavy lifting or the more dangerous it is to use a treadmill.

We are so lucky to have an organization like the Wellness Place in the Wenatchee Valley. Its mission is “[t]o improve and enhance the health and well-being of community members through programs and education; inspiring every person to live their best life now.” Their current programs include targeting and supporting cancer patients, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and diabetes support services.

The SAIL program started in 2006 and focuses on balance and fitness for those 65 and older. Exercises that improve strength, balance, and fitness are the most important activities you can do to stay active and reduce your chance of falling as you age.

These classes are offered all over the greater Wenatchee area, and they’re no cost to the attendees. It is a great opportunity to kick off a healthier lifestyle for free. Learn more about the classes and when and where they take place and start your new year the right way.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in the Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re helping you learn more all week. Test your knowledge and get the facts.

Your Pancreas Knowledge


Your pancreas is a gland in your abdomen that helps with digestion and blood sugar regulation. Know your pancreas.

Your Pancreas


Signs of pancreatic cancer include abdominal or mid-back pain, weight loss and loss of appetite, nausea, jaundice, and a new onset of diabetes.

Signs of Pancreatic Cancer


Your risk of pancreatic cancer is based on your family history, diet, race, gender, age, and smoking and can go up if you have obesity, diabetes, or chronic pancreatitis. Are you at risk?

Risk of Pancreatic Cancer


Take the pledge to demand better for pancreatic cancer patients and go purple to raise awareness.

Spread the word, host a purple party, talk to your elected officials, register for PurpleStride, and more to make a difference.

Host a Purple Party

PCOS Awareness Month

PCOS Awareness Month

It’s Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS Awareness Month. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women, more than 7 million total.

Learning About PCOS


More women suffer from PCOS than the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus combined.

Unity in the Face of PCOS


With PCOS, many women develop cysts because of a hormonal imbalance. Insulin may also be linked to it.

Insulin Levels


PCOS Symptoms can include infertility, abnormal menstrual cycles, weight gain, pain, and more.

PCOS Symptoms


Your doctor can perform an exam or tests to check for signs and symptoms of PCOS. Ask about them at your next well-woman visit.

You and Your Well-Woman Visit


If you suffer from PCOS, you’re more likely to have serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.

More Serious Health Risks that Go with PCOS


There isn’t a cure for PCOS, but your doctor can help you treat it and its symptoms. You can also donate time or money.

PCOS Treatment and Support

National Eye Exam Month

National Eye Exam Month

August is National Eye Exam Month, and 12.2 million Americans require some sort of vision correction but don’t use any, according to the Vision Council of America.

Almost 50% of children under 12 have never seen an eye care professional. Eye exams can help you fix issues early.

Eye Exams for Kids


1 in 4 kids have vision problems, and it’s a common reason for them to fall behind in school. Eye exams could help stop reading problems in their tracks.

Read Better with Glasses


Many eye diseases have no symptoms. Eye exams can help your doctor catch serious issues early.


Many eye conditions can be improved if they’re caught early, especially in children. Schedule an eye exam for your kids.

Fight Eye Problems Fast


Eye exams can also help spot other problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Window to Your Health


If you’re having unexplained headaches, your eye doctor might be able to help. It may be as simple as updating your prescription.

Fighting Headaches with Your Eyes

A Healthy A1C Level

Long View: What Does A1C Mean to Me?

Our community liaison team has never met a health fair or expo they didn’t love! Health fairs and expos are great places to learn about the abundance of services available in our communities to support seniors and their families.

With brightly colored, free shopping bags in hand, visitors gather pens, lip balms, and hand sanitizers, along with informational brochures and contact information for everything from beautiful, new living communities to financial planning. I’ve never seen so many butterscotch hard candies in one place since my grandmother’s candy dish in the 1970s.

Many health fairs and expos offer free checkups for various parts of your body and health. Participants aren’t the only ones taking advantage of a little free TLC. So far this summer, I’ve had the kinks rubbed out of my neck, the skin on my face analyzed for sun damage, and my blood pressure checked.

But one of the most interesting tests I’ve done recently came from my friends at Memorial Hospital in Carthage, IL. They measured my A1C level.

“What is A1C?” I asked, with a donut in one hand and a cup of coffee with cream in the other.

A1C is the measurement of the average blood sugar levels for the past 3 months, they told me. “Oh no,” I said. “I can’t get that done today. I’m eating a donut!”

The kind nurses assured me to sit down and relax. No fasting is required. In the blink of an eye, my finger was (painlessly) pricked, and a small amount of my blood slipped into a tiny little tube. The tube took a 5-minute spin in the centrifuge, and bingo, my A1C for the past 3 months is…. I’ll keep you in suspense until the end.

The National Diabetes Education Initiative recommends that diabetics have the A1C measurement taken at least twice a year. Everyone else should measure A1C once every 3 years. The nurses from Carthage recommended that most people should have measurements below 5.7%, since measurements between 5.7 and 6.4% indicate a greater risk for becoming diabetic.

The daily measurement of glucose levels is very important for diabetics who need to keep their levels within healthy ranges. Knowing your 2- to 3-month average can help you determine your overall glucose health, which in turn can help you make healthy choices throughout each day, like about sleeping, playing, working, eating, and more.

And if you don’t have diabetes, knowing if you have a higher than average A1C level can be a valuable piece of information to help you make healthy changes to curb your chances of getting diabetes at some point in your life.

Those who are already diabetic should strive to lower their A1C to at least 7% when possible. This could be a struggle for those who suffer from the disease, but the research points toward a much lower risk of developing diabetic complications like eye, heart, and kidney disease the closer you can get to 7%.

To tell you the truth, waiting for my blood to spin around for those 5 minutes in the centrifuge had me sweating a little. This could be the year my chickens come home to roost. I’ll be having one of those special birthdays next year where everyone wears black. I’m not exactly the healthiest eater. Leggings and stretchy-fabric pants have become my best friends.

This A1C measurement was an important wake-up call for me. The good news is that I measured well below 5.7%.

While I could have spiked the football, declared myself invincible, and grabbed a second donut, I didn’t. I decided to really pay attention to this information and be grateful for my health today, maybe take an extra walk around the block every week. Next year, I’m setting my sights on something in the high 4s.

Pass the kale.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Deciding on a Balanced Diet

Eating a Balanced Diet

Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.

The Importance of Healthy Eating

Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Include in a Balanced Diet

A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:

  • Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving  size.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
  • A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans,  soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
  • Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.

Limit in a Balanced Diet

  • Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.

A Balanced Diet with MyPlate

MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.

This chart can help you divide your own plates appropriately: MyPlate

Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.

Making Smart Choices

Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.

Tracking Your Food

Then, you can target the number of servings you should be getting of the different food groups.

These can help you figure out calorie counts and limit sodium and sugar.

This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.

Making and Meeting Food Goals

  • Start small.

Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:

  • Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
  • Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
  • When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
  • Plan for all of the places you go in life:
    • Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
    • If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
    • When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
    • Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
    • Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.

Results and Rewards

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.

Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.

  • Plan your cheat day.

Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.

  • Find healthy ways to treat yourself.

For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.

Up Next:

Now that you know the value of a balanced diet, learn to prepare before you go grocery shopping and shop smart to meet your goals.