People living with diabetes are given a host of numbers in reports from their doctor’s visits. Those numbers are very important, but should be paired with the information that can be gained every day through home monitoring of blood sugar.
Blood sugar testing is very important because it helps you manage your diabetes on a day-to-day basis. Blood sugar numbers help you to understand and take control of your diabetes.
Tools used at home to test and monitor blood sugar levels include blood glucose meters and Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices. Speaking with your doctor or another member of your diabetes treatment team will help you decide which monitoring method is best for you.
When and how many times to test your levels each day will vary from person to person so you should follow the specific testing schedule your physician has established with you. Many schedules may call for once-daily testing while others require two or more testing time that might be before or after meal.
Daily blood sugar levels plus lab reports are just two tools needed to develop a road map to diabetes management success. Knowing those numbers tells you where you are, but goals represent where you would like to be.
A lab report crucial to your goal-setting is your A1C level also known as hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c. The A1C is a common test for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It measures how well diabetes is managed over a period of time instead of just one instance. An A1C reading of 6.5 is the usual indicator of a diabetes diagnosis.
A1C test recommendations
- Every 6 months when you are meeting treatment goals and have stable blood sugars.
- Every 3 months when therapy has changed or if you are not meeting blood sugars targets.
- Used by physician to allow for timely decisions on therapy changes.
- In-home testing may be done with across the counter testing device called A1C Now®. See this at www.a1cnow.com
When setting goals, it is important to strive for noted, but reasonable change. Home testing may be recorded each day, but it might take three to six months to evaluate the big picture and see true progress or regression. Be very patient and don’t expect to drive your averages down or up like the numbers on a scale. Slow and steady not only wins the race, but it also provides a safe playing field for your diabetes treatment plan.
In almost every corner of the country, fall signals a beautiful change in outside scenery or a reprieve from hot or cold conditions. Walking may be just the ticket for those looking to increase their exercise and physical activity.
Walking is one of the most highly recommended forms of physical activity for people with diabetes. It requires very little preparation and cost. It can be done practically anywhere – parks, malls, and in the street or the woods.
Take good care of your feet and they will take care of you. You might not spend a lot, but invest in good walking shoes. The shoes need to fit comfortably, with plenty of room in the toe area. They should not rub at the heel. Some walking shoes include an extra pair of eyelets close to your ankle. Lacing these may help prevent heel friction. Make sure your walkers have flatter, broader soles, which help improve balance.
Wear good socks. Cotton socks can bunch and retain moisture. Check out newer synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from the skin.
A regular walk will be an effective way to control blood pressure. People living with diabetes should consider these tips from About Health magazine before taking off.
- Begin slowly and easily. Walking just 5 or 10 minutes on the first day is perfectly acceptable if that’s all you can accomplish. The important thing is to not get injured or sore, which could end a walking campaign at the starting line.
- Add 5 or 10 minutes per week. As one continues to improve, aim for 45 minutes to an hour, five to seven days per week. That’s an ideal amount of time for blood glucose maintenance. However, health benefits begin to accrue at just 30 minutes per day.
- Break it up. Several 10- to 15-minute sessions are just as effective as one longer walk.
- Count your steps. During the last few years, pedometers — small devices that clip to the belt to count steps — have become popular. They can help track total steps taken on daily walks, or all day long. Recording walking totals can be motivating.
- Find a place to walk. If one’s neighborhood is unsafe, limit walking to daytime, walk in groups or try a nearby school track, community center or shopping mall.
The nation is preparing for the start of the influenza (flu) season and people living with diabetes should make sure their fall plans include getting vaccinated against the flu. The U.S. flu season runs from late November until March. Because of changes in the various strains, last year’s flu shot will not protect you as a new season begins.
The Flu is a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses. These viruses are “airborne,” which means they pass through the air and enter the body through the nose or mouth. Each year, the flu is caught by 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. The flu can be serious or even deadly for elderly people, newborn babies, and people with chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Symptoms of the flu come on suddenly and are worse than those of the common cold.
- Body or muscle aches
- Sore throat
Many people confuse catching a cold with the flu. Colds rarely cause fever or headaches. The flu rarely causes an upset stomach. The condition often called the “stomach flu” isn’t influenza at all, but gastroenteritis.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu. Complications of the flu can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
People living with diabetes are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu and are at a greater risk of having to be hospitalized after contracting the flu. Because of this increased risk, the flu shot should be considered mandatory for people with diabetes.
If you have diabetes – even if your blood sugars are in good control – and are sick with flu-like illness, you should follow these additional steps:
- Be sure to continue taking your diabetes pills or insulin. Don’t stop taking them even if you can’t eat. Your health care provider may even advise you to take more insulin during sickness.
- Test your blood glucose every four hours, and keep track of the results.
- Drink extra (calorie-free) liquids, and try to eat as you normally would. If you can’t, try to have soft foods and liquids containing the equivalent amount of carbohydrates that you usually consume.
- Weigh yourself every day. Losing weight without trying is a sign of high blood glucose.
- Check your temperature every morning and evening. A fever may be a sign of infection.
Call your health care provider or go to an emergency room if any of the following happen to you:
- You feel too sick to eat normally and are unable to keep down food for more than 6 hours.
- You’re having severe diarrhea.
- You lose 5 pounds or more.
- Your temperature is over 101 degrees F.
- Your blood glucose is lower than 60 mg/dL or remains over 250 mg/dL on 2 checks.
- You have moderate or large amounts of ketones in your urine.
- You’re having trouble breathing.
- You feel sleepy or can’t think clearly.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Weight is a common factor when discussing diabetes. Two unrelated studies released this week, however, show how opposite ends of the weight issue can lead to the development of diabetes. Babies born at low birth weights and adults with higher than normal weights were shown to have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Boston University researchers studied more than 20,000 black women ranging from age 21 to 69. They looked at many factors and focused on birth weight and cases of type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies born at 5.5 pounds or less were 13 times more likely to develop diabetes. Babies born under or near 3 pounds were 40 percent more likely to develop diabetes in adulthood.
The connection between birth weight and adult-onset diabetes is seen in other demographics. Black women were studied because that group is more likely to have low birth weights and is also seen to have higher than normal cases of diabetes. The researchers feel that low birth weight leads to poor lipid regulation and problems with the pancreas. They also point to theories that low weight at birth and diabetes share the same genetic source.
An unrelated study also released this week looked at the factors linked to the large increase in U.S. diabetes cases. The number of diabetes cases doubled from 1976 to 1980 and doubled again from 1999 to 2004. The team concludes that skyrocketing obesity is the greatest factor in the diabetes epidemic.
Andy Menke, the lead researcher, explained that there has been a substantial increase in obesity in the U.S. population during the study period. Other factors linked to diabetes include race, ethnicity and age.
For more, visit:
Diabetes develops in stages and for many, the state of pre-diabetes will be seen before full-onset diabetes is diagnosed. Researchers in Spain set out to prove that eating pistachios every day will not only slow down this progression, but also reduce the risks associated with diabetes.
Two groups of people with pre-diabetes were followed in a recent study. Both groups were on a reduced calorie diet. One group, however, was given 2 ounces of pistachios a day. The pistachio-eating group showed significant drops in blood sugar and marked improvement in insulin and blood sugar processing. This group also had a dramatic drop in inflammation.
The Spanish study used pistachios, but previous studies and research has found that eating nuts can lead to lower risk of heart disease and drops in cholesterol.
The Diabetes Management & Supplies Web Learning Center includes resources related to pre-diabetes and other forms of diabetes. It explains that pre-diabetes was once called borderline diabetes. A person is pre-diabetic when their fasting blood sugar is between 100 and120. A pre-diabetes diagnosis is also given with an A1c test result between 5.6-6.5%. As its name suggests, left unchecked, pre-diabetes develops into type 2 diabetes.
These higher than normal blood sugars are the result of insulin resistance, a medical term to describe the circumstances of the pancreas producing insulin to lower blood sugar, but the body resisting it. High blood sugar is the result.
For more discussions, visit:
The technology to test and manage blood sugar results from smartphones took a big step this week. The Philosys group received 501K approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Gmate SMART Blood Glucose Monitoring System.
The Gmate SMART meter is not much bigger than a quarter. It connects to the headphone jack on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. It will use a free app to deliver blood glucose test results, without the use of an adapter or Bluetooth device.
The Gmate system will offer features such as goal setting, graphing, and the ability to email or text blood glucose test results directly to members of a diabetes care team.
Philosys is based in South Korea. Sales senior vice-president Mike Tickle said the company continues its efforts to be a technology leader for the diabetes mobile monitoring arena.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests talking to your doctor about whether you should be checking your blood glucose. People that may benefit from checking blood glucose include those:
- Taking insulin
- That are pregnant
- Having a hard time controlling blood glucose levels
- Having low blood glucose levels
- Having low blood glucose levels without the usual warning signs
- Have ketones from high blood glucose levels
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) lists Monitoring among its seven self-care behaviors for people living with diabetes. The actions are often seen as goals ensuring improvement and the best control of blood sugar levels.
The following video shows how the device is used and some of its features.
For more information, visit:
The use of a gout drug could help people living with diabetes avoid kidney problems. Allopurinol is the generic name of a drug used to treat gout. When high levels of uric acid gather in the body, gout is the result.
Several research groups have formed PERL or “Preventing Early Renal Function Loss in Diabetes.” They will study the effects of allopurinol on people with type 1 diabetes. The three-year study will test if the uric-acid cutting drug will also lower kidney damage.
New regimens have been introduced over the past 20 years. Blood sugar and blood pressure controlling drugs have not decreased the number of ESRD cases or end-stage renal disease.
Kidneys are made up of millions of small blood vessels. The vessels act as filters cleaning waste products from the blood. Diabetes can cause this filtering system to break down leading to kidney failure.
Consistently higher blood sugar levels make the kidneys filter too much blood. Over time, the filters start to leak and protein leaks into the urine. A person with ESRD would need a kidney transplant or start blood-filtering treatments using a dialysis machine for survival.
Allopurinol lowers the uric acid that causes gout. PERL researchers also hope uric acid reduction will protect kidneys when diabetes is present. The drug is on the market under the brand names Aloprim,Lopurin and Zyloprim.
The study will use subjects with type 1 diabetes, but it is hoped that one day the drug also could help those with type 2 diabetes.
For more on the study and kidney damage:
Carbohydrates, when broken down, turn into sugar. Too many carbs at one time can cause your blood sugar to go too high. The amount of carbs that you should eat at one meal depends on the individual. Contact a diabetes educator or a dietician for a customized meal plan.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a simple principle that explains all carbohydrates are created equal: A carb is a carb is a carb! It is important to understand that sucrose (table sugar) and other sugars do not create a more harmful effect on blood sugar and they are not absorbed more rapidly than starches. The totalamount of carbohydrates eaten will have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than the source of the carbohydrate.
A healthy eating regimen doesn’t just help control blood sugar. It also can have a positive effect on other conditions like obesity, hypertension and heart disease.
Diabetes Management & Supplies offers diabetes self-management and diabetes education services. For more information on specific nutrition needs or to enroll in group or individual sessions, call our Education Department at 1-888-738-7929 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.