Tag Archives: test

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.

HPV & Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical Health Awareness Month 2016

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. How much do you really know about preventing this cancer? Take this quiz to find out.

Cervical Cancer Quiz

 

Get the facts about cervical cancer, like the risks, symptoms, and prevention.

Cervical Health

 

Lower your risk of getting HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease. Find out how.

HPV is a very common infection that can affect both sexes. Find out how HPV affects men.

Prevent HPV

 

Ask your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine! Both boys and girls need it at age 11 or 12.

Falling Back Into School

 

You can help prevent cervical cancer by getting regular screenings, called Pap tests, and follow-up care.

Cervical Screenings Infographic

 

Think cervical cancer could never happen to you? This young woman’s podcast talks about what happens when it does.

What Happens When It Does

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World Antibiotic Awareness Week

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

It’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Why should you care about antibiotic resistance?

Why It Matters

 

Reasons for the world antibiotic resistance crisis include:

  • Patients not finishing their full course of antibiotics

What You Can Do as a Patient

 

  • Health workers over-prescribing antibiotics

What You Can Do as a Health Worker

 

  • The overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming

What You Can Do as a Part of Agriculture

 

  • Poor infection control in hospitals and clinics

How Antibiotic Resistance Spreads

 

  • Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation

What You Can Do as a Policy Maker

 

  • Lack of new antibiotics being developed

WHO_HWC_ 6x infographics_22.10.15

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Preventing Group B Strep

Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is Group B Strep (GBS) Awareness Month, so we’re helping you learn more about it each day.

GBS is a type of bacteria that’s in the digestive track of up to 1 in 4 pregnant women, and can cause babies to be miscarried, stillborn, premature, handicapped, or very sick. Learn more.

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GBS Disease has 3 types, prenatal (during pregnancy), early-onset which happens within your baby’s first week, and late-onset, anytime after 1 week. Learn more.

Cropped shot of a father holding his infant child in the air

 

GBS does have noticeable symptoms! If you’re pregnant, call your doctor if you have less or no fetal movement after your 20th week, or if you have an unexplained fever.

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Once your baby’s born, call you doctor or take them to the ER if they have refuse to eat, sleep too much, have a high or low temp, red skin, or blue or pale skin from not enough oxygen. See the full list of symptoms.

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Babies can be infected with GBS from in the womb until several months old. Women usually don’t have symptoms, but should get infections during pregnancy treated right away.

I could lay here forever

 

You can check for GBS with a urine test during pregnancy if you’re worried you might have it.

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The hospital can also test your baby to see if they have GBS after they’re born, so talk to your doctor about any symptoms you see.

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Fitness Binder

My Healthy Journey: Rally and My Fitness Binder

My move is complete! While I have no furniture outside my bedroom (partly from a very trying, calorie-burning, failed attempt to get a couch through my front door) all of my things and my dog have successfully made the transition.

A new kitchen and plenty of living room space for yoga (because falling down is a lot easier in a room with no furniture) have made it time to refocus on my healthy journey.

Right now, I’m working on small steps. I’ve bought some running shoes, and now that the weather has finally gotten up out of sub-arctic temperatures, it’s time to take action.

If you’ve followed my journey, you’ve heard about our wellness tool, Rally. Rally helps you evaluate your health with an easy test and then has you pick challenges in order to earn coins, which you can use to enter drawings for rewards.

Rally is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals each day, and I’m going to help connect you to ways to make your Rally goals happen. I’ve done a few of the challenges before, and while I’m not going to do all of them permanently, I am going to spend all spring testing them out and connecting you to resources to meet your goals.

The first two challenges that I’m going to test out and help you with are cooking at home more and tracking what you eat.

I had tracked what I ate before with a handy app called MyPlate. I still recommend it, but I’ve taken a different route this time.

I’m a writer at heart. I’ve been saying I was going to be a writer since I was 4, when I wrote my first book, which was about bears. (I realize this might make me sound like Dwight to you lovers of The Office, but my bears weren’t eating beets. They were being ballerinas and astronauts. You know, real bear stuff.)

While humiliating myself is always a fun side effect of blogging about my life, I bring this story up for a reason. I like writing things down, and I’ve always liked writing things down. There is nothing so satisfying as putting a physical check mark beside a task. I work on the Web team, and I still keep a physical planner and to-do list.

So I’ve decided that maybe I stopped keeping up with the app (conveniently right around the holidays) because there was no satisfaction or memory in it for me. If I write something down, I feel it and remember it. If I just select an item out of a digital list, I will not remember how many calories those Skittles are costing me every day.

So I’ve made myself a My Healthy Journey fitness binder. I’m using it as a one-stop, life-hub of organized information. It’s amazing.

I started with supplies. I bought a beautiful binder that I can live with carrying around every day.

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Then I gathered office supplies:

  • Plenty of paper (for printouts).
  • Grid paper, which is perfect for making lists. All of the little boxes make perfect check boxes right alongside your tasks.
  • Binder dividers, a three-hole punch, and a large variety of highlighters, pens, and markers.
  • Plus my laptop, grocery list, and coffee because no morning project unfolds well in my house without coffee.

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The first thing I did was waste a lot of time on Pinterest looking at fun, inspirational typography. As a writer and designer, I’m a font geek, and I decided that I would start each month of my binder with some hand-drawn, cute, inspirational quotes. My dog and I worked on this in bed while watching documentaries. (She hated it because it meant I wasn’t petting her…) While it might sound like a waste, it has truly made me love my binder. My beautiful binder and I have formed a loving bond through hours of coloring. I definitely recommend it.

Then I printed some things that are actually useful. First up is a weekly printable meal planner. If you search for that online, you can find tons of free downloadables, both with and without grocery lists. Or you can try the one I chose or this colorful other option. I opted for a simple planner and to continue to use my awesome Wonder Woman grocery list. Choose whatever works for you.

Then I printed off some calendars. I have a planner for work, but I don’t like to put personal stuff in it because not only do I sometimes show it to people when scheduling social media plans, but I also don’t look at it outside of work. So this calendar will have things like my dentist appointments, the dates my prescriptions run out, and the dates all my different bills are due. I naturally color-coded all of this with highlighters, like an organization geek.

The last important piece of the puzzle is a printable daily food log. Again, there are lots of these to download for free on the Internet. This blog inspired me to make the binder and has a log you can download, or WebMD has an especially good Food Journal. With a little computer magic, though, I made my own, which combined spaces for food, calories, and exercise and has a water section to remind me to drink more water. The best part about making it yourself is you can add anything you want. Do you want a space for vitamins, medicines, or even reminders for things like flossing? Add anything that you think a physical reminder will help you stick with. You can also download My Healthy Journey Food Journal (it’s two pages, so you can print it double-sided!)

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I’ve only been doing it for a week, but so far, I’ve noticed that I remember how many calories are in my food far better when I’m forced to calculate and write it down myself every single day. You really think about your choices when you know you have to add that candy onto your day’s calorie total. The menu planner also forces me to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out meals. While I haven’t stuck to it perfectly, it really does make grocery shopping and cooking much easier to plan for.

And just in case you need some ideas when you sit down to plan, here are 50 Healthy Dinner recipes you can try, or follow us on Pinterest for new healthy recipes all the time.

And follow me on Instagram, where I share inspiration and my healthy journey, mostly through food.

Here’s a taste of the day in the life: bright green Pea Pesto Pasta, Raspberry Sorbet (a go-to dessert at just 120 calories a serving), and Pineapple-Lime Salsa Chicken Tostadas with Corn Guacamole for just 380 calories. (The chicken is of my own invention. I just put 2 chicken breasts into a crockpot with a small can of chopped up pineapple tidbits, a quarter jar of salsa, and the juice of a lime and cooked it on low for 8 hours. Then I shredded it for delicious, sweet and savory tacos.)

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Join me there in making cooking and health more fun, one image at a time!

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Preventing Colorectal Cancer

A Cancer You Can Help Prevent with Screening

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 93,090 new cases of colon cancer in 2015 and another 36,610 cases of rectal cancer.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer is 1 in 20. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It will kill nearly 50,000 people this year alone.

But it doesn’t have to.

Colorectal cancer is also highly preventable. Screenings can find polyps, or small abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Over time, these polyps can become cancer. Removing them before that happens can save lives.

These screenings also can catch cancer at an early stage, and treatment at this point often leads to being cured. About 9 out of every 10 people with this type of cancer who get treatment early are still alive in 5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are screening exams for colorectal cancer, and they’re very similar procedures. In both, a doctor looks for polyps with small cameras.

People are usually given medicine to relax and sleep during a colonoscopy. Once you’re 50, you should start having this done once every 10 years depending on your risk for colorectal cancer.

People usually don’t need medicine before a sigmoidoscopy, and this test is usually done once every 5 years.

While the number of people getting these screenings has been slowly growing, many more lives could be saved.

In 2010, it was estimated that only 60% of those who should be getting these tests were getting them. About 1 in 3 Americans, or 23 million adults between 50 and 75 years old aren’t getting tested. Medicare-aged adults in particular aren’t getting this important test.

According to the American Cancer Society, the number of colon cancer deaths in the U.S. could be cut in half if Americans followed the recommended screening guidelines.

And it’s so easy to protect yourself! Just talk to your primary care doctor about your risk for colorectal cancer and when and how often you should get screened.

Patient Safety Awareness

Patient Safety Awareness Week

It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, so we have some tips from the National Patient Safety Foundation to help you protect yourself.

The key is communication with your doctors. This means making sure you understand everything your doctor is telling you, and sharing things that can help them. Tell them things like if you’ve been injured, if you’ve changed your diet or exercise habits, or if you haven’t been able to sleep.

Ask lots of questions! They want you to understand your disease and treatment, so make sure you understand your medicines, condition, and treatment plans.

Take a deep breath

 

If you’ve been diagnosed with a condition, learn more about it. You can protect yourself by learning more with materials from your doctor, online resources, and even disease management info from us.

Working hard to earn her independence

 

Make sure you carry an updated list of the medicines, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking to all your appointments with doctors, so you can make sure your whole care team is on the same page.

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Speak up if you think you’re getting the wrong prescription, treatment, or you think you’re being made to leave the hospital too soon. Your doctor can help you make sure you’re getting the right care.

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If you have a test at the doctor’s office, follow up if you never get or hear your results. Never assume “no news is good news.”

At laboratory

 

Have a list of contacts ready. Make sure you have the names and info to contact all of your doctors available, and that your doctor knows who to contact or who should act for you in an emergency.

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