What You Can Do About the Flu

It’s already time to start preparing for the flu season. Don’t delay, get your flu shot today!

A young person in Florida has already died from the flu, and another woman in Kentucky passed away in mid-October from flu-related illness. These aren’t cold weather states; the flu is already starting this year and will be pervasive in the Panhandle before we know it.

Last year marked the highest level of hospitalization for influenza ever recorded. After such a staggering season, the CDC looked back at 2017 to report on the direct costs – such as doctor’s visits and hospital stays as a result of the flu. The annual cost for treating influenza in the United States in 2017 was $4.6 billion.

You Can Make 2018 a Better Flu Season

There are some positive signs for this flu season. The CDC forecasts the H3N2 influenza virus to have a weaker year than 2017 since, unfortunately, so many people were infected with that particular strain last year. Also, Australia’s recent flu cases (their flu season peaks around our Labor Day) were primarily of the H1N1 strain, which is milder than other strains. We are all hopeful this trend will continue.

Signals of a milder flu strain shouldn’t mean it is time to relax against the disease. Last year, 80,000 Americans died from the flu – most of them over the age of 65. If you are a senior citizen, or come into contact with seniors – at church, in restaurants or theaters, or over the holidays – the flu can be deadly. Everyone should get a flu shot, but especially if you are in contact with Amarillo’s more vulnerable citizens.

Flu shots are still the single most effective way to prevent infection and to stay healthy.

From the time a person is exposed to the flu virus, to the time when symptoms begin is an average of about 2 days. Even so, symptoms may begin as early as the very next day or may not appear for as many as 4 days. At that time, most adults are able to infect others from the day before their symptoms develop, up to 5 to 7 days after becoming ill.

The lengthy and unclear time of being contagious is why many people infect others. They may not “feel sick” and still be contagious. Or they may feel they’ve already beaten the disease after their own illness – and may yet still be contagious to others who haven’t been vaccinated. A flu shot is not only the best way to keep yourself healthy, it is the best way you can keep from infecting others.

5 Tips to Combat Flu Season

  1. If you have flu-like symptoms you should always separate yourself from others and go to bed. A good rule of thumb is to assume that you are contagious for 24 hours after your fever goes away. Stay away from others until that time period has passed.

    2. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you do, wash your hands again.

    3. We’ve all been told to cover our coughs and sneezes. Since a sneeze travels at speeds of 100 miles per hour, they need to be covered. Grab a tissue and use them. And wash your hands.

    4. Clean surfaces and items that have frequent hand contact with anti-bacterial cleaner or wipes.

    5. Get enough sleep. Proper sleep helps keep bodies running at their best, and helps recovery happen quicker. At any stage of the disease, and before infection, sleep is one of the best things you can do to remain healthy.

We are here to care for you! Contact BSA ADC today for a flu shot.

If You Do Become Ill…

We hope that you don’t, but if you do, it’s okay – we can still help you. Prescription antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick. Starting medication treatments later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu.

Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking any prescription medication.

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Diabetes is Not a Death Sentence

Together with ADC, people can live normal lives even with diabetes.

Over 400 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the disease causes over 1 million deaths every year. The disease also damages the body, amplifying other health concerns and is a secondary cause for even more deaths. It also causes blindness and amputations – it’s a very serious disease which, as of yet, has no cure.

But, there is some good news.

When managed properly, people with diabetes can lead long and productive lives. The Endocrinology Department at ADC deals daily with people managing the disease. Today, let’s learn more about the disease and what is necessary to manage it.

How Diabetes Affects the Body


After eating, carbohydrates in food are broken down into sugars to be carried throughout the body via the bloodstream. The body uses those sugars as energy for regular, daily function. The condition of diabetes disrupts this cycle – creating severe, damaging imbalances in blood sugar levels. There are two ways this imbalance occurs.

In Type I Diabetes, the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. The body’s naturally-produced insulin can no longer aid in breaking down blood sugars. With the body is incapable of producing enough of its own insulin, Type I Diabetes is treated with injections of an insulin replacement.

The second type, Type II Diabetes, is a more common form and is also a progressive form of the disease. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance over time. The body still produces insulin, but has difficulty utilizing it effectively. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II Diabetes. As a result of the nature of Type II diabetes, however, the pancreas often wears out due to late detection of the disease or from years of medication. At that point, insulin replacement by injection is – again – necessary.

When caught early, diabetes can easily be treated. The longer someone lives undiagnosed, the worse their health outcome is likely to be. Patients should visit their doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of their treatment can be re-evaluated.

Good glucose control is essential to prevent the onset of diabetic complications that can can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation. But with proper self-care and medical expertise people with diabetes can avoid these complications.

4 Ways To Effectively Manage Diabetes Symptoms

1. Exercise


If diagnosed, one of the best things a person can do for themselves is to exercise on a regular basis. Guidelines recommend a daily exercise regimen for at least 45 minutes that is initiated slowly and built up gradually to avoid injury and to build stamina. Clearance from a physician is imperative for any patient before starting an exercise regimen.

Every person that is overweight significantly increases their chances of contracting diabetes. The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic has a patient education specialist to assist you in the care and management of diabetes through diet and exercise.

2. Check Your Blood Sugar

People living with this disease check their blood sugar levels regularly with a home glucose monitor. A physician or diabetic educator will prescribe a routine and frequency that best suits a patient’s needs. Most recommend checks before breakfast and before supper.

Not only is checking levels necessary for day-to-day health but recording those numbers daily is another necessary step. At doctor visits, a physician will need those readings to understand the full scope of how the patient is managing their disease.

3. Periodic Checks


Glycohemoglobin: This is a test developed for information about average blood sugar level over the course of two or three months. These checks may occur two to four times a year – varying between patients. The American Diabetes Association recommends that the patient’s diabetic regimen achieves a glycohemoglobin level of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated.

Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking would all be considered factors of risk.

Some medications used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by a physician should be taken only as directed. Before adding or deleting any medication – including over the counter medications. Patients should consult their doctor about any changes to their prescriptions.

Microalbumin: This urine test is performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.

Ophthalmologist: A visit should be scheduled annually as well. The doctor can evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.

Finally, patients should have an annual comprehensive medical exam – including a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

4. Sick Days

Living with this disease means that some days are simply going to be worse than others. We refer to them at ADC as “sick days” and they require special consideration. Anything a body perceives as stress has the ability increase blood sugar levels. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If a person with diabetes is ill their blood glucose will likely rise – even if they cannot eat.

Sick Day Best Practices for Diabetics

  • Stick to meal plans if able to eat.
  • Continue diabetes medication unless a physician says otherwise.
  • Check with a doctor before taking any new medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Take a blood sugar test every 4 hours.
  • It is recommended to have someone check on the ill person every few hours, in case the illness progresses.

If in doubt, consult a physician. Early and effective management of these sick days will reduce chances of falling into a diabetic coma.

It Will Be Okay


Taking steps to prevent and control diabetes doesn’t mean life is over. It means eating a tasty, balanced diet, exercising and taking the necessary steps to stay healthy. With these tips, anyone can still take pleasure in life – with diabetes – without feeling deprived.

The Endocrinologists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic are thoroughly trained in the management of hormonal and metabolic disorders. Patient education services are available for patients in the care and management of these disorders. We also provide dietary counsel for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

We are here to help, please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Staying Healthy on Vacation in a Foreign Country

Photo by Mysaell Armendariz

How You Can Stay Away From the Summertime Blues

Summertime means vacation time. Beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them and lots of photos for Facebook and Instagram. For many travelers, however, vacations can also lead to sickness. Drinking bottled water helps reduce the chances of “Delhi Belly” and “Montezuma’s Revenge;” getting appropriate vaccinations are always recommended.

The chances of contracting Hepatitis A also increases when you travel outside of the American borders. This highly contagious viral disease is hardest on seniors with weaker immune systems. The disease attacks mainly the liver. At its peak, it can leave you feeling weak for an extended period of time – in some cases, even months. The symptoms begin several weeks after contracting the disease, so Hepatitis A won’t likely ruin your vacation – but it can put a damper on the rest of your summer.

How To Know If You’re At-Risk

Traveling with reputable companies to first-class accommodations does not eliminate contracting contagious diseases. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick to higher-level hotels and resorts. A gourmet meal or a pristine bathroom can still harbor disease – and the rigors of traveling can weaken your natural defenses. Assume you are at risk whenever you travel abroad, regardless of the level of cleanliness and service.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. If you buy fresh fruits or vegetables at a local market, wash them with bottled water before eating. Very hot coffees and teas are typically safe, but ask for a disposable cup, not a hand-washed mug.

While you’re on vacation, you may be substituting drinking water for other beverages, but dehydration can leave you vulnerable. Alcoholic drinks tend to be safe (use your straw, and – even on vacation – always drink in moderation). Drinking water is historically less so. Quench your thirst with bottled water instead of local “tap” water – and use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Skip the ice, and don’t drink beverages of unknown purity. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before using it.

Wondering If You Have Hepatitis A?

Don’t panic. Most cases of hepatitis A are mild cases don’t require treatment. Nearly everyone who becomes infected recovers without permanent liver damage. But vigilance is always a better choice than treatment. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Hepatitis A can last from a mild case of several weeks to a severe case lasting a few months. Again, age often plays a factor in the severity of the symptoms. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms appear most often four weeks after exposure and develop over several days. Symptoms may also start abruptly in as few as two weeks or as many as seven, and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Finally, not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms. For this reason it is important to be diligent upon returning home from an area prone to the disease. Immediately, wash your clothing, bathe, and clean personal items with disinfectant.

Should You See the Doctor?

Exposure to hepatitis A can be treated before the first signs of symptoms. You can receive the hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure to thwart possible infection. Likewise, immunoglobulin therapy is also available before the beginning of symptoms. Ask your doctor – or your local health department – about receiving treatment for hepatitis A if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or to South or Central America, or to any area with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is not a living bacterial infection, it is a viral disease. As is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once infected. At this point, the only thing you can do is get a lot of rest.

How You Can Stay Healthy

To avoid getting hepatitis A you have to know how you can get infected in the first place. For all illnesses that commonly affect travelers, follow these simple instructions:

  • Do NOT eat food handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water. Shellfish (like mussels, clams) or any local fish where there is an outbreak of disease.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water. Eating even a healthful salad can make you sick in a month. Stick to cooked vegetables for your diet.
  • Hepatitis A is most often found on your hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example). The disease is then transferred to your mouth, where it enters your system. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Again, contaminated drinking water can put you at risk for Hepatitis A and other illnesses. Avoid ice and brush your teeth with safe, bottled water.

You can have a great vacation and not worry about contracting a disease if you practice good hygiene. Those most likely to contract hepatitis A will do so from contaminated food or water. But don’t forget that the disease can also spread from close contact with someone who’s infected. Wash your hands frequently, and any older travelers should look into the two-part Hepatitis A vaccine.

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

Gout diagnosis, treatment options, and case management from BSA ADC

(Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

What is Gout?

Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid. The buildup is also known as hyperuricemia. The higher your uric acid level, the more likely you are to get gout. Excess uric acid can form crystals in the joints and lead to swelling and pain.

The first attack of gout usually occurs in the big toe.

Flares are said to be extremely painful, and are associated with red, swollen and tender joints. Flares can also be found in the feet, ankles, hands, wrists elbows and knees.

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How Is Gout Diagnosed?

Doctors often ask about symptoms, medical history and family history of gout. Signs and symptoms of gout include:

  • Hyperuricemia
  • Uric acid crystals in joint fluid
  • More than one attack of acute arthritis
  • Arthritis that develops in 1 day, producing a swollen, red and warm joint
  • Attack of arthritis in only one joint, usually the toe, ankle, or knee.

To confirm a diagnosis of gout, your doctor may draw a sample of fluid from an inflamed joint to look for crystals associated with gout.

How Is Gout Treated?

Doctors use medicines to treat an acute attack of gout, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Colchicine, which works best when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute attack.

Sometimes doctors prescribe NSAIDs or colchicine in small daily doses to prevent future attacks. There are also medicines that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.

How Can I Manage my case of Gout?

High levels of uric acid can lead to crystals in the joint, causing swelling and pain. If uric acid levels are left untreated, flare-ups will happen more often, be more painful, and joint damage will occur.

Keeping uric acid levels below 6 mg/dl reduces the risk of gout attacks with long-term treatment. At this level, crystals in the joints dissolve, resulting in fewer attacks.

 

You don’t have to live another day with uncontrollable pain in your joints.

Contact us to learn more about gout or to schedule an appointment.

7 Online Services Offered at ADCPA.com

7 Patient Online Services You May Not Know About

Get Pre-Registered, Update your profile, pay your bill and more

At BSA Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic, our goal is to provide our patients with the best experience possible when interacting with our practice. That’s why we’re pleased to offer secure, interactive patient self-service features that lets you communicate with us from the convenience of your home or office. So why call, when you can click?

Picture of a woman looking at a laptop

Online Services

So go ahead, replace our waiting room with your living room. It is fast, easy, and convenient!

 

What You Can Expect When Getting a Colonoscopy

During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon. If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well.


Why Is It Important? 

This procedure may help find polyps, colon disease, ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea. A colonoscopy is most often used to look for early signs of cancer in the colon and/or rectum.
*According to the American Cancer Society, one of the most powerful weapons in preventing colorectal cancer is through colorectal screening or testing. People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening for colon and rectal cancer at the age of 50. Those who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer need to talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age and more frequent intervals.

WHAT INDICATORS DO I NEED TO CONSIDER?

WHAT DISEASES OR ILLNESSES CAN BE FOUND?

  • Rectal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal pain
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Colitis
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Diverticulosis


What Is a Colonoscope? 

A colonoscope is a thin flexible instrument used to visualize the inside of your rectum and colon. It can be used to collect a biopsy (small growths and tissue samples) and contains a small camera with a light on the end to videotape and capture images.

How Do I Prepare?


You will be required to take a prep to clean the bowels prior to the procedure. Your physician or nurse will give you instructions on the type of prep you are to take. The prep will cause you to have multiple bowel movements and result in liquid stools.

Note: Please call your physician if you were unable to complete your prep. It may be necessary that your test be re-scheduled.
You will also receive instructions on which foods or liquids you may eat or drink prior to the procedure. You may be asked to stay on liquids 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure.
For your safety, you will be asked to stop eating or drinking any food or liquids at least 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Upon Admission:

  • Your nurse will take your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs
  • You will be asked about pain of any kind
  • Your nurse will go over all of the forms that will need to be filled out
  • Your medications and allergies to medications will be reviewed
  • An IV will be started
  • An assessment will be completed

The Procedure

  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure (specimens will be sent for testing and your physician’s office will call you with the results).
  • Monitors will be placed on you in order that we may monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation.
  • You will be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Medications will be given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (medications commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications.
  • The procedure will usually take an average of 30-45 minutes
  • Recovery time may vary between 2-3 hours

We require that the person accompanying you remain at the Center during your procedure and to drive you home after your procedure. If you have any valuables with you, we will ask that you give them to the person accompanying you. Remember to ask any questions that you may have at any time.

Recovery


You will remain in recovery for at least 30 minutes. The nurse will take your temperature, vital signs and do an assessment and your physician will talk to you about your procedure. If appropriate, you will then be discharged.

Discharge

Discharge instructions will be reviewed with you and the person accompanying you and will include all of the following:

  • Do not operate machinery or heavy equipment for 24 hours
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours
  • Drink plenty of other fluids
  • Avoid any foods that are greasy or spicy for the first meal
  • Call your physician if you experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or bleeding.

You may be very sleepy at the time of discharge. You are encouraged to go home and rest for the rest of the day. Any special instructions from your physician will be written on the discharge sheet. Your physician will determine if follow-up is needed.

Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

5 Primary Ways to Keep Your Bones Strong as You Age

A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs. This test helps to estimate the density of your bones and your chance of breaking a bone. Our Diagnostic Imaging Department is equipped to provide a variety of radiology services including BD testing. All studies are interpreted by independent radiologists who are board-certified by the American Board of Radiology.

Knowing Your Family History

A key to understanding your bone health is by knowing your family history. Having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures. Additionally, hormone levels also play an important role. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. The prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.

Additionally, hormone levels also play an important role. Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. The prolonged absence of menstruation (amenorrhea) before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.

How to Increase Bone Health

Include Calcium in Your Diet

For adults ages 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and for men after age 70. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products, such as tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements.

Get More Vitamin D

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults ages 19 to 70, the RDA of vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs) a day. The recommendation increases to 800 IUs a day for adults age 71 and older. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna and sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Sunlight also contributes to the body’s production of vitamin D. If you’re worried about getting enough vitamin D, ask your doctor about supplements.

Include Physical Activity in Your Daily Routine

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs, can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

Avoid Substance Abuse

Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, regularly having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis, possibly because alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Don’t smoke. Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

Bone Density Test

Women ages 65 and up should get tested, the same applies for men 70 and up. You may want to talk with us about the risks and benefits before deciding. Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss or have a family history of osteoporosis.

We Are Here For You

It’s important to pay attention to your signs and symptoms. Stay updated on which adult health warning signs promote medical attention. Regular physical exams and adult health screening tests are an important part of preventive adult health care. Know which screening tests you need and how often to have them done. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

4 Important Steps to Managing Your Diabetes

The Endocrinologist at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is thoroughly trained in the management of hormonal and metabolic disorders.  With the aid of our experienced staff, our Endocrinology Department can assist in the management of your diabetes, complex metabolic bone disease, or disorders affecting the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands.   Patient education services are available for patients in the care and management of these disorders.   We also provide dietary counsel for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly utilize blood sugar. Carbohydrate foods create blood sugar and the body needs insulin in order to process the sugar into energy for the body to function properly.

Type I diabetes is a condition in which the body’s immune system damages the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin. This form of diabetes is treated with insulin replacement by injection since the body is no longer capable of producing enough of it’s own insulin.

Type II diabetes is a much more common form and is progressive in nature. This form of diabetes causes insulin resistance which means the body still produces insulin, but had difficulty utilizing it. There are various medications in pill form to treat Type II diabetes, but because of the nature of Type II diabetes, sometimes the pancreas wears out and insulin replacement by injection is required.

At this time there is no permanent cure for diabetes. Your physician will determine what medications you may need and should be carefully used daily. You should visit your doctor every three to six months so that the efficacy of treatment can be re-evaluated. Good glucose control is essential in order to prevent or retard the onset of diabetic complications. These include, but are not limited to damage to the small vessels of the eye, kidney damage, coronary artery disease, and peripheral nerve damage. These complications can lead to blindness, heart attack or stroke, dialysis, and amputation. The good news is that with proper self-care and medical expertise you can significantly reduce or avoid these complications altogether.

Exercise

Weight control through diet and exercise is important. If you are overweight, your chances of diabetes increases significantly and you are putting yourself at risk. The Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic has a patient education specialist to assist you in the care and management of diabetes through diet and exercise.

You need to exercise on a regular basis, preferably every day for at least 45 minutes. An exercise program should be initiated slowly and built up gradually to avoid injury and build stamina. Go for the distance rather than intensity. Our patient education specialist can assist you in starting an exercise regimen that will work for you. Be sure and obtain clearance from your physician before starting any exercise regimen.

Check Your Blood Sugar

You can do this with a home glucose monitor regularly. Your physician or diabetic educator will prescribe a routine and frequency that best suits your needs, but many doctors ask that you monitor before breakfast and before supper. Please be sure to record your numbers and to bring your results along with your meter when seeing the doctor. He or she will want to discuss those readings with you.

Periodic Checks

  • Glycohemoglobin: This is a test developed to give information about your average blood sugar level during the past two or three months. It should be checked every three to six months. The American Diabetic Association recommends that the patients diabetic regimen be adjusted to achieve a glycohemoglobin of less than 7%. Any contributing risk factor for vascular disease should be aggressively assessed and treated. Cholesterol, triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and smoking are all factors that need to be addressed. Your physician or educator can help you understand your results and your treatment options. Some medications typically used to treat elevated blood pressure also have a protective effect in preventing kidney complications of diabetes. Any medication prescribed by your physician should be taken only as directed. Consult your doctor before adding or deleting any medication including over the counter meds.
  • Microalbumin: urine testing should be performed yearly to evaluate the likelihood of diabetic kidney involvement.
  • Ophthalmologist: A visit should be scheduled at least yearly. He or she will evaluate any diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, or other conditions and plan treatment accordingly.

You should have a comprehensive medical exam yearly that includes a treadmill exercise test. Underlying coronary artery disease is often more common in an individual with diabetes and needs early intervention.

Sick Days

Sick days require special consideration. Anything your body perceives as stress can and will increase your blood sugar. This stress can be physical or emotional in nature. If you are ill your blood glucose will rise even if you cannot eat. Rules of thumb for sick days are as follows.

  • Stick to your meal plan if you can eat.
  • Take your diabetes medication unless your physician tells you to stop.
  • Check with your doctor before taking any other medication.
  • Drink at least one large glass of liquid each hour. If you are eating, these liquids should be sugar-free.
  • Test your blood sugar every 4 hours.
  • Ask someone to check in on you or have them call every few hours to make sure you are all right.
  • If in doubt, consult your physician. Early and effective management of sick days will reduce your chances of developing diabetic coma.

Finally…

Taking steps to prevent and control diabetes doesn’t mean living in deprivation; it means eating a tasty, balanced diet, exercising and taking the necessary steps to stay on top of your health. With these tips, you can still take pleasure from life with diabetes without feeling deprived.

We are here to help, please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Stay Awake at The Wheel: Putting an End To Drowsy Driving

Your body requires three things: water, food and sleep. You can choose not to drink water or not eat food until you eventually die. Your body’s need for sleep is so strong, however, that you can try not to sleep, but your brain will eventually make your body sleep. When you deprive yourself of sleep (or aren’t getting quality sleep), you become drowsy.

Drowsiness is a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic. Drowsiness can be triggered by your body clock, exposure to daylight/darkness and how long you’ve been awake. The average amount of sleep recommended for an adult is eight hours. Any less can impair you speech and motor skills. It is even likened the effects of being under the influence of alcohol.

How Common is Drowsy Driving?

Drowsy driving is responsible for 100, 000 police-reported crashes annually, involving 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. However, studies suggest an even higher rate of drowsy driving. One study goes as far as to say 55% of people drive while drowsy, while 23% fall asleep behind the wheel without incident, and 3% have been in a drowsy/sleep-related accident.

Drivers that are drowsy are usually unaware of how tired they are prior to an accident, and as of now, there is no test for sleepiness after a wreck.  This is due, in part, to the release of adrenaline that an accident causes the brain to release. Drowsy drivers are often fully alert after an accident, which can be misleading. Drivers also tend to be reluctant to tell police they were drowsy after a crash.

What are the Common Characteristics in Drowsy Driving Accidents?

The time of day could be a cause for a driver being drowsy. Our brain tells our body to sleep in the quiet midnight hour, but we get a similar call at the peak hours of the afternoon. In turn, most accidents happen between midnight and 8 a.m., closely followed by 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. So, if you must drive during these times, provide yourself with plenty of sleep beforehand.

82% of reported drowsy crashes involved an individual driving alone. Another person in the vehicle provides a buffer to keep the driver alert. At very least, the passenger has the opportunity to notice when the driver is getting sleepy. Driving with the “buddy system” can allow the passengers in the vehicle to drive on a shift schedule.

One report stated  4% of all fatalities are attributed to people driving drowsy. Good indicators can include no skid marks or witnesses not seeing brake lights.

Who is Most at Risk?

Young drivers make up the majority of drowsy drivers. 55%, to be exact. Males make up 75% of those car wrecks, while females account for the the remaining 25%. Other attributing factors include lifestyle or behavioral choices. Younger people to make tiresome decisions such as to stay up late and work longer hours.

What are the Signs of Drowsy Driving?

  • Drifting from your lane or hit the rumble strip.
  • Finding yourself yawning frequently.
  • Catching yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • Weakened attention or wandering mind.
  • Tailgating and missing of traffic signs.
  • Having trouble focusing and keeping your eyes open.

How to Prevent Drowsy Driving?

Prevent drowsy driving by making sure you (or your driver) is well rested before extended car trips-trips. Another effective measure is to stop and sleep when you feel tired. Also, avoid alcohol and medications that impair your ability to drive. Don’t fall under the fallacy that you’ll be able to shake it off and be fine when you can feel your eyes getting heavy.

Alerting devices can save your life. One of the most effective alerts is the roadway rumble strip to wake a driver who is drifting off but it isn’t a cure-all. Auto manufacturers are also creating new devices to help keep a driver awake on the road.

If healthy sleep habits don’t help your drowsiness, you should get a sleep study. Learn more about sleep studies and sleep disorders.

Give Your Heart a Break: Overcoming Chronic Stress

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When you are constantly experiencing stress, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or even weeks at a time. Chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls.

Chronic Stress

On one hand, stress is inevitable and a necessary part of life. There is, however, serious consequences to not handling stress in a healthy manner. Even short-lived stress can have an impact. Chronic stress has been proven to increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress also has a significant negative effect on a person’s mental health. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. According to the American Psychological Association, 66 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress, and 63 percent experience psychological symptoms. Some people don’t realize the effects of stress until the effects have already negatively affected them. 

Can Managing Stress Reduce or Prevent Heart Disease?

Managing stress is a good idea for your overall health, and researchers are currently studying whether managing stress is effective for heart disease. A few studies have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease. Studies using psychosocial therapies – involving both psychological and social aspects – are promising in the prevention of second heart attacks. After a heart attack or stroke, people who feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed by stress should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professionals.

Tips For Managing Stress

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the unhealthy stress. Some of these tips may be more helpful than others, and some might already be included in your daily routine. Regardless, here’s a few tips that will help:

  • When feeling stressed, slow down and take deep breaths. Try to Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth
  • Exercise
  • Find a friend or family member you can trust and talk it out
  • Laugh
  • Be Positive
  • Seek out activities that involve others
  • Manage your time, be sure to not overwork yourself
  • Take a walk
  • Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs

Medicines are helpful for many things, but usually not for stress. If you are experiencing chronic stress, try learning how to manage your stress through relaxation or stress management techniques. Be careful not to confuse stress with anxiety. If you suffer from severe anxiety, speak with your doctor about your options.

Even the most organized people aren’t immune to experiencing stress. If you have questions or need more advice on managing stress, contact us or schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the American Heart Association).