The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 8% of the United States, or almost 24 million people, are affected by diabetes. In 2007, the total cost of diabetes was around $176 billion for direct costs (medical) and indirect costs (loss of work, disability, and premature mortality). The largest part of the cost was attributed to complications of the disease. The cost to patients’ quality of life is incalculable.

You can make a difference in your personal life with diabetes. Recommendations for national standard of care are set forth by the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and the like. This is to promote both the best quality and quantity of life for you.

For starters, the average blood sugar over 90 days is measured by a lab test called a Hemoglobin It is done every six months for healthy diabetics, and every three months or more often for uncontrolled diabetics (a value usually > 7%). Measurements at home are also helpful for medical management. Medicare and most insurances cover a home meter annually, as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

You can make a difference in your overall health with diabetes. It is truly up to you.

Other lab tests done for healthy diabetics annually are for kidney function thru Serum Creatinine and Microalbumin, along with a Cholesterol (Lipid) Panel. If not in line with the set limits, then measures for improvement are made and the tests are redone in three to six-month intervals. If the kidneys cannot filter out toxins, it is as if your “kitchen sink is clogged up,” so everything backflows and breaks down. Thus, these values for kidney function and cholesterol effect blood pressure. The goal for blood pressure with diabetes is stricter than ever at <130/80 mmHg at all times.

Yearly, a dilated eye exam is advised, along with a dental exam. The eyes and mouth reveal blood flow issues (eyes) or infections (mouth) that can directly affect the heart due to diabetes. Did you know that having diabetes automatically increases your odds of having a heart attack by 50%?

A foot exam is due every six months for break down of the skin, infections, dryness, fungus in the toenails and between the toes and nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy). It is recommended to check and moisturize the bottom of your feet twice a day when you have diabetes. Medicare and most insurances cover the cost of specially fitted diabetic shoes annually, as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Influenza and pneumonia vaccines are important in diabetes. Flu is annual, while pneumonia is once, but may be repeated every 10 years.

Keeping the blood flow moving is the key to avoiding diabetic complications. Sugar is sticky. For example, pour out a glass of water then pour out a glass of molasses or syrup. Watch how much slower the sugary substance pours out. That is the difference between a healthy and non-healthy diabetic’s blood flow. This is why daily low dose aspirin, exercise, adequate water intake, and avoiding tobacco are key.

You can make a difference in your overall health with diabetes. It is truly up to you. At North Texas Family Medicine, we passionately serve you with the utmost in quality of care, as set forth by national guidelines. Let us encourage you to enjoy the fullness of life even with diabetes.

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