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Defeat Diabetes Month

Defeat Diabetes Month

It’s Defeat Diabetes Month. 9.4% of Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 4 of them don’t even know they have it.

Diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over 65 years old. Managing your diabetes is even more important as you age.

Managing Diabetes As You Age

 

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Diabetes 101

 

If you have diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar, exercise, and diet change can all help you manage your disease long-term.

Treating Diabetes

 

These resources are packed with lifestyle tips that can help you make smart day-to-day choices when you have diabetes.

Around the Web: Your Healthy Lifestyle for Diabetes

 

Diabetes can lead to more health problems, like heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, and more.

Preventing More Serious Diabetes Complications

 

Curious about the history of diabetes? Learn more about how humans have made sense of it through the years.

The History of Diabetes

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

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.

Ultrasound

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
Covered Pregnancy Preventive Care

Your Pregnancy Preventive Care

If you’re pregnant or may become pregnant, you also have access to specific pregnancy preventive care as part of your health insurance.

If you’re not pregnant, you can talk to your doctor about this care at your yearly well-woman visit.

If you think you’re pregnant or have a positive home pregnancy test, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to confirm your pregnancy and get started with prenatal care. Your OB-GYN, who will be your primary doctor for your pregnancy, will help you with pregnancy-specific preventive care.

Preventive Care If You May Become Pregnant

  • Anemia screening – On a routine basis
  • Syphilis screening
  • Gonorrhea screening – For all women at higher risk
  • Urinary tract or other infection screening
  • Contraception – FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling as prescribed by a healthcare provider for women who could get pregnant

Pregnancy Preventive Care

  • Child birth
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers and access to breastfeeding supplies – For pregnant and nursing women
  • Folic acid supplements – For women who may become pregnant
  • Expanded tobacco intervention and counseling – For pregnant tobacco users
  • Gestational diabetes screening – For women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Hepatitis B screening – For pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
  • Rh Incompatibility screening and follow-up testing for those at higher risk – For all pregnant women

Know What’s Covered

Log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your member number to see what preventive care your plan covers.

Or use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can also check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Log in to Your Health Alliance to find a covered doctor, or start searching for doctors in our network.

Treating Diabetes with Glucose Checks

Treating Diabetes

There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but it is very treatable. Treating diabetes depends on which type of diabetes you have.

Type 1 Diabetes

Because those with type 1 diabetes can’t produce enough of their own insulin, they must treat their diabetes with insulin injections.

Type 2 Diabetes

For many, treatment for type 2 diabetes focuses on diet and exercise. If blood sugar levels stay high, oral medications can help your body better produce insulin.

In some cases, insulin injections are used.

For those who who are at risk of TOFI type 2 diabetes, it’s important to:

  • Exercise, which is the only way to shed fat on the abdominal organs.
  • Lower stress, which can temporarily raise your blood sugar.
  • Diet smart by avoiding “diet foods” that are actually loaded with sugar, like low-fat salad dressings and vitamin drinks.

Gestational Diabetes

Treatment for gestational diabetes needs to happen quickly to protect you and your baby.

Treatment tries to keep your blood sugar levels at the same levels as healthy pregnant women’s through a combination of these:

  • Specialized meal plans
  • Regular, scheduled physical activity
  • Daily blood sugar testing
  • Insulin injections

It’s important to work with your doctor to make a treatment plan in all cases, but especially with gestational diabetes where personal changes are important for protecting your baby.

Testing

The A1c test measures your average blood sugar level over 2-3 months. Your doctor will generally order it every 3-6 months depending on which type of diabetes you have to keep an eye on how your treatment is working.

For most adults, the American Diabetes Association’s suggests your A1c be under 7%, but your doctor will help you decide what’s best for you. Studies show that people with diabetes keep normal A1c levels live five years longer, on average.

Checking your blood sugar with your personal meter helps you manage your treatment on a day-to-day basis. It gives you info right away to help you make decisions about taking your insulin, when to exercise, and tell you if you’re on track.

Keeping normal blood sugar levels reduces the risk of high cholesterol, and controlling your cholesterol can lower heart complications by 50%.

These two tests work together to tell you how your diabetes management is going. This chart shows what an A1c level translates to in blood sugar levels:

A1c         Average Blood Sugar (mg/dl)

6%                             126

7%                             154

8%                             183

9%                             212

10%                           240

11%                           269

12%                           298

Insulin Injections

The biggest challenge to people who are treating diabetes with insulin injections is balancing exactly how much insulin you need to take, which can vary based on:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Stress
  • Current emotions
  • General health

Not balancing these factors and your insulin can result in hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is when you eat too little food, take too much insulin or diabetes meds, or get extra exercise, which causes your blood sugar levels to be too low.

Hyperglycemia is when you eat too much food, don’t take enough insulin, or are stressed or sick, and then your blood sugar levels are too high.

The best way to know if your blood sugar is high or low is to test your levels. But it’s also good to know the warning signs:

Hypoglycemia

  • Shaky
  • Dizzy
  • Nervous
  • Sweaty
  • Hungry
  • Clumsy
  • Confused
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Tingling mouth
  • Headache
  • Pale face
  • Seizure
  • Passing out

Hyperglycemia

  • Going to the bathroom a lot
  • Thirsty
  • Tired
  • Weak
  • Blurry vision
  • Hungry, even when you’ve eaten.

When your blood sugar level is too low, you can:

  • Eat or drink something with 15 grams of carbs:
    • Try three glucose tablets, 4 ounces of apple or orange juice, 4 ounces regular soda, 1 tablespoon cake frosting or three Jolly Ranchers.
    • Wait 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose level again.
    • If your blood glucose is still too low, eat another 15 grams of carbs. Wait another 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose again. You may want to keep eating until you feel better, but it’s very important to wait the full 15 minutes.

If you or your care team feel your signs are serious, inject glucagon which is the opposite of insulin—it raises your blood glucose level.

If your blood sugar is high, it’s important to remember that one high blood sugar reading isn’t a big deal, it happens to everyone from time to time. But if you keep running high day after day, talk to your doctor.

No matter what, it’s important to talk to your doctor and care team about the best way to manage your diabetes and how to handle these situations.

Deciphering Diabetes

Diabetes 101

Diabetes’ Reach

Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S., a whopping 9.4% of our population. That number has doubled in the last 10 years. And each year, it costs Americans more than $245 billion.

Worldwide, it affects more than 380 million people.  And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with it will more than double.

Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure, and stroke.

What Is Diabetes?

When you eat food, your body turns it into sugar. Then, your body releases a chemical called insulin, which opens up your cells so they can take in that sugar and turn it into energy.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that breaks that system, causing there to be too much sugar in your blood, or high blood glucose.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is normally diagnosed in kids, and it’s the more serious kind. Its is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the cells that create insulin.

Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood, starving your cells. This can cause eye, heart, nerve, and kidney damage, and in serious cases, can result in comas and death.

 Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes, and it’s frequently called adult-onset diabetes because it’s usually diagnosed when you’re over 35.

People with this form of it produce some insulin, just not enough. And sometime, the insulin isn’t able to open the cells, which is called insulin resistance.

While many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or inactive, there is a new group of patients emerging—young, slim females. Molecular imaging expert Jimmy Bell, MD, calls this condition TOFI, thin outside, fat inside.

Instead of building up below the skin’s surface, fat gathers on their abdominal organs, which is more dangerous. Risk factors for these women include a lack of exercise, daily stress, and yo-yo dieting.

Gestational Diabetes

Some pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes before and won’t have it after develop a form called gestational diabetes.

Your high blood sugar can cause your baby to make too much insulin. When this happens, their cells can absorb too much sugar, which their bodies then store as fat. This can raise their risk of a difficult birth and breathing problems.

Symptoms

Early detection is key to preventing serious complications from diabetes.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Peeing often
  • Feeling very thirsty or hungry, even though you’re eating
  • Extremely tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss, even though you are eating more (for type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (for type 2)

There are often no symptoms for gestational diabetes, so it’s important to get tested at the right time.

Does any of this sound like you? Learn more about how your doctor can test and diagnose you. And learn more about the different treatments.