Over 50? Schedule Your Colonoscopy Soon.

Photo by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash

 

  • The CDC estimates that 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over 50 got a colonoscopy.
  • Roughly 90% of new colon cancer cases occur after age 50.
  • Screenings are brief, painless and the most effective of all cancer prevention methods.
  • But 40% of Americans for whom colonoscopies are recommended do not get one.

Discussing colorectal cancer isn’t a common topic for most people, and it’s understandable. It involves talking about an intimate part of the human anatomy, and – even scarier – cancer. But if you are over 50, it is definitely a conversation you should have with your doctor.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in America; 50,000 Americans die annually from the disease. The American Cancer Society and Center for Disease Control both recommend colonoscopies once a decade after 50.

A colonoscopy is a procedure which allows a physician to look at the interior lining of the rectum and large intestine. Using a thin, tube-like lighted instrument equipped with a lens, a doctor looks for abnormal areas, polyps, and possible cancer. This procedure may also help find other colon diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. It can also help identify ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea.

If you are 50 and haven’t set up a colonoscopy, discuss this very important procedure at your annual physical. If you are over 50 and haven’t had this screening, or if you know someone for which this is true, contact us to set one up today. Below, some highlights are listed detailing what to expect with your first procedure.

Preparing for Your Colonoscopy
Days before the procedure, your physician or nurse will give you preparation instructions. The purpose of this preparation is to clean out the bowels and will result in multiple bowel movements and cause liquid stools.

If you are unable to complete the prep as directed: please call your physician. It is likely that your test be rescheduled.

You will also receive dietary instructions prior to the procedure. In some cases, a liquid diet is requested for a short duration, 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure. For your safety, it is imperative not to consume any food or liquids within the 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Always discuss your health history if it has changed in any way since you last saw your GI physician.

Upon Admission

Plan for half a day at the doctor’s office. Whoever accompanies you to ADC will be asked to remain during your procedure and to drive you home. This person would also keep your valuables, such as a wedding ring or a cell phone.

Before the procedure you will be asked by your physician about pain of any kind. You may also ask any questions that you have at any time. You and the team will discuss your current medications and your personal allergies to any medications. Medications are given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (most commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications. After reviewing your vitals, an IV will begin.

During the Procedure

  • The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation are monitored continuously. You will also be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure. Specimens that may be removed will be sent out later for testing. Your physician’s office will call you with the results once that testing is completed.

Following the Colonoscopy

Following the procedure, it is typical to remain in recovery for 2-3 hours. After some time, you will receive another checkup, again checking your temperature and other vital signs. At this time, your physician will also take you through what they saw during the procedure. If appropriate, you will be able to begin drinking fluids again.

Discharge instructions are always reviewed with you and the person accompanying you. You may be sleepy at the time of discharge and are encouraged to go home and rest for the day. Any special instructions from your physician are also written on the discharge sheet. If follow-up is needed, your physician will advise you at that time.

 

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CDC: 46 States Experiencing Flu Outbreak

Combat Flu With These 5 Sleep Hygiene Tips

Getting back to a normal pace after the holiday season can sometimes be difficult. To make matters worse, the CDC has reported that 46 states are experiencing a flu outbreak. Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene is a great way to remain healthy this time of the year.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

The behaviors that affect the quality of a person’s sleep are collectively known as that person’s sleep hygiene. These habits occur before, during and after time spent in bed. While the recent holidays may have thrown off your previous schedule, it is best for your mind and body to return to those sleeping habits.

For most people, falling asleep and staying asleep comes naturally. There are certain lifestyle and dietary habits that promote sound sleep. And it is possible those habits were instilled by parents to children. Others may have figured out through trial and error what habits work best for them.

But many people have to be more intentional with their actions. If sound sleep is elusive, try the techniques suggested here. They may help you sleep better on a regular basis.

What is causing me to sleep poorly?

1. Stress

It is no secret that any sleep problems are caused by stress. What’s surprising is that it may not be caused by current stress. When someone is dealing with stress, they may start to develop certain strategies counterproductive to effective sleep. A stressed person may partake in regular napping, excessive use of caffeine, or alcoholic beverages at bedtime, working at night, or sleeping at irregular times.

These coping mechanisms may work in the short term to reduce the stress level. The problem then lies in the time after the stressful situation is eliminated. Those coping strategies may have now become a habit. Actions that alleviate stress before may now cause sleep problems. The cycle of repeated difficulty falling asleep creates new tension and a fear of sleeplessness can result.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the brain and interferes with sleep. Coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate, prescription and nonprescription drugs – including some OTC pain relievers – contain caffeine. Moderate daytime use of caffeine typically does not interfere with sleep at night. But heavy or regular use during the day can lead to withdrawal symptoms and sleep problems at night.

If you suffer from insomnia, try to drink fewer than two caffeinated beverages a day. Avoid caffeinated substances after lunch and see if this helps your sleeplessness.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine withdrawal can also disrupt sleep patterns. As with caffeine, nicotine is another stimulant that makes falling asleep difficult. Smokers who quit can expect to fall asleep faster and wake up fewer times throughout the night.

4. Alcohol

One of the effects of alcohol is a slowing of brain activity. It seems reasonable then that when taken at bedtime, alcohol would help one sleep. True, alcohol may help induce sleep – at first. But it also disrupts sleep later in the night.

You body metabolizes the sugars in alcohol as quickly as it can. If you have a “nightcap” before bed, your body is performing this function as you are trying to sleep. Working in this manner may lead to awakenings during the night. Alcohol is also known to induce nightmares and early morning headaches. For more sound sleep, avoid alcoholic beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.

5. Meals

Metabolizing a large meal before bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. Foods that irritate the stomach also can make sleep fitful.

A light snack at bedtime, however, can promote sleep. Milk and other dairy products consumed with carbohydrates like crackers, are especially good as bedtime snacks.

 

Good, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do during the flu season. The above suggestions should help you fall and stay asleep. If these tips don’t do the trick, consider scheduling a sleep study today. Sleep problems can lead to a number of health issues and should not be taken lightly.

Wishing you sweet dreams.

 

Five Things to Know About HPV

dmitriy-ilkevich-437760Photo by Dmitriy Ilkevich on Unsplash

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. HPV is the Leading Cause of Cervical Cancer.

79 million Americans have Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. 12,000 American women will contract cervical cancer this year, almost entirely as a result of HPV. Of those, roughly one-third will lose their battle with the disease.

What can you do?

Cervical cancer as a result of HPV is typically a slow moving condition and – when caught early – can be treated. Learn more about the virus and the diseases it causes, and contact your healthcare provider if you have further questions.

1. All sexually active adults have at some point or another had one of many strains of the Human Papillomavirus. Many strains cause no problems and are thwarted by your immune system in one to two years. Other strains cause genital warts, which can flare up once or become a chronic condition.

But other strains are destructive to the cells at the opening of the cervix. Sometimes, weakened immune systems are unable fight off the viral infection. The virus can live in the body for weeks, months, years or decades without affecting the cervix.

2. There is no treatment for the virus once it has entered your body, but vaccinations are available for teenagers and young adults. The virus is passed by genital contact with other soft tissue areas (even without penetration). Proper use of male condoms reduces the likelihood of passing the contagion on somewhat, but only the areas covered by the prophylactic.

Pregnant women almost always have normal deliveries and healthy babies who do not have the virus.

3. 14 million Americans are infected with  HPV every year. Even if you receive this diagnosis, remember that it is a completely normal infection, much like the chicken pox. The American Sexual Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition have online support communities at Inspire.com where you can find information and support from others.

4. A Pap test can alert your physician if there are any abnormal cell changes to the cervix. HPV tests alert doctors and patients to which women are at the highest risk for cervical cancer. Pap/HPV co-tests are suggested for all women over 30.

A Pap test is the only way to find precancerous cells of the cervix. Catching problematic cells before cancer begins is the best way to fight cervical cancer. Get screened according to the guidelines suggested by your personal physician, typically every 3 to 5 years. But remember, the virus can be dormant for long periods of time. Don’t forget to continue screening for this reason.

5. Dr. Joanna Wilson is one of the practitioners of HerCare. At ADC, they treat each woman as a unique individual to develop physical and psychological well-being. The Practitioners of HerCare provide primary care and annual exams with an emphasis on applying the latest scientific knowledge of gender differences in diseases and treatments.

Dr. Wilson believes that the woman’s annual pelvic examination is a vital component to a patient’s overall health, and refers for obstetric and surgical gynecologic and urologic care. She believes that the patient and doctor are a team working towards a common goal, and that success is based in patient education and empowerment. Contact us at HerCare to set up an appointment for a Pap test today.

(Some information provided by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.)

6 Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

An apple a day isn’t all you need to do to keep the doctor away.

It’s that time of year again. The weather is cold outside and your immune system is working overtime to make sure you’re healthy. Do everything that you can to help with these simple tips.

Wash Your Hands

The number one tip of all. It’s too cold to be outside, so you’re spending even more of your free time indoors. You know what? So is everyone else. More people than ever are touching the same things you are, passing along more germs and viruses than you are used to. One is going to slip past your body’s natural defenses.

If you get a cold or flu this year, you likely have your own dirty mitts to thank. As you pick up germs on your fingers, you may scratch your eye or eat some finger food and invite those germs into your body.

There is a solution, and it’s simple and easy. Wash your hands with soap. Do it often and well. Use hand lotion to keep them from drying out in the cold winter and causing cracks in your skin. This is a key way to prevent a cold or flu.

Get Your Flu Shot

We recommend getting a flu shot.

The flu is not a minor problem; a severe case can sideline you for days. The vaccine is the best, most effective way to allay those fears. Above that, the flu can be dangerous, especially for older adults, pregnant women, and young children who don’t wash their hands as well as you do. Get your shot, and this year you may still get sick or you may not. But know that without that shot you may be more likely to cause you and your family a lot of misery.

Be Prepared for the Season

Where’s your hand sanitizer? Do you need to get some more? When you go to battle cold and flu germs, make sure you have the weapons you need. Multi-vitamins, pain relievers, decongestants – make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked. Don’t forget hand soap and hand sanitizer and tissues. Is your thermometer battery working?

When you are at the supermarket, load up on fluids, herbal tea, and simple comfort foods like chicken soup. You may not get sick, but you want to be prepared if you do! How many times have you prepared for a worst-case scenario only for it not to happen? Maybe this time you can avoid the flu by being ready for it.

Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Do you have a bug or a virus? Is that a cold or the bonafide flu? Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire way to differentiate your symptoms. Even your physician may not be sure.

True, colds are milder. Usually the overreaching complaint is a runny or stuffy nose.

The flu is usually more sudden and severe. Fever, body aches, and exhaustion are more common with the flu. And they are typically shorter lasting but more intense. Both of these conditions come from a virus, so you can’t “kill” it, but there are other ways your physician can help you out.

Choose the Right Medications

Over the counter, there are lots of cold and flu remedies to choose. Avoid combination medications that package lots of drugs in one pill — like a decongestant, cough suppressant, and a painkiller. If you don’t have a cough, or if you only have aches, you are taking medication that you don’t need. You don’t feel good, true – but take the time to read labels and choose only the medications that will help.

If you have antibiotics, don’t be tempted to use them. Again, these are viruses and antibiotics work only with bacterial infections. Also, using antibiotics when you don’t need them is a bit dangerous. It increases the risk of breeding dangerous germs that are resistant to drugs.

Don’t Go to Work

Stay home. Yes. It’s not easy to take a sick day. But if you have a cold or flu, you should. Even if you feel better after lunch, don’t go in for half a day. Don’t run errands. When you’re sick, stay home, rest, and recover. It’s better for you and everyone around you.

Pushing yourself when you’re sick and working instead of resting wears down your body. Your body may have a harder time fighting off the virus. Your cold could last longer. You could also spread the virus to other people. Stay home.

Colonoscopy: Everything You Need To Know

Wandering about a Colonoscopy?

Here are some questions that might help clear up any confusion you may have. Please feel free to contact BSA ADC for more extensive details and information regarding Colon health and services that may be offered at BSA ADC.

Take a video tour!

I know I am supposed to hold aspirin products for 5 days.  What are considered aspiring products?

Aspirin products include:  Advil, ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, naprosyn or any medications you take for arthritis (including iron).

What foods am I supposed to avoid 2 days prior to the procedure?

It is important that you stop eating high roughage foods such as lettuce, beans, cabbage, corn as well as any high fiber foods including whole wheat bread.  If you take fiber laxatives, you must also stop taking them 2 days prior to your procedure.

What foods are ok to eat?

It is ok to eat meat, potatoes, pastas, fruits, and white breads.

I know I am supposed to begin a clear liquid diet at breakfast on the day prior to the procedure, what is considered a clear liquid?

Clear liquids include all of the following:

  • Strained fruit juices (without the pulp)
  • Water
  • Clear broth or bouillon
  • Coffee or tea (without milk or non-dairy creamer)
  • Gatorade
  • Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks
  • Kool-aid or other fruit flavored drinks
  • Plain jello (without fruit or toppings)
  • Ice popsicles
  • No red or purple fluids/liquids
  • No milk products or solids

Where is ADC Endoscopy Specialists located?

Our physical address is #1 Care Circle Drive.  Our facility is located inside Legacy Squares office park off of Amarillo Boulevard West between Coulter & Soncy.

3 Signs Your Headache Needs Medical Attention

Sudden, Excruciating Headache?

James came home from work, dropped his briefcase on the couch, and  slid into his favorite chair. He put his head in his hands. He’d barely made it from the car to the couch. His headache was bad enough that he wasn’t aware of his wife, who’d walked in and asked him if he was alright.

James was experiencing one or more signs of severe headache. Here are 3 sure signs your headache requires medical attention:

  1. The Headache Comes on Suddenly with Excruciating Pain
  2. It’s the Worst Headache of Your Life, or
  3. The Headache Causes a Change of Your Consciousness, Making It Difficult to Walk or Talk

If you think you are experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor right away. And if you believe you are in danger, call 911. Headaches can be extreme and awful. Carefully monitor your symptoms and speak with your doctor about how you feel.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don’t get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Types of Headaches

  • Migraine headaches
    • Pain may be generalized, or on one side or both sides of the head
    • Can cause mood swings, fatigue, food craving, nausea, vomiting or vertigo
    • May also cause visual disturbances or sensitivity to light and sound, flashing lights or floaters
    • Usually last 4-72 hours
  • Tension headaches
    • Usually occur at the base of your head and is usually on both sides of your head
    • Dull, vice-like pressure around the head
    • Can be triggered by stress or muscle tension, poor ergonomics or body mechanics
    • Can be intermittent and lasting throughout the day
  • Cluster headaches
    • Pain may affect the eye, temple, face and/or neck areas
    • Sudden and excruciating pain that can happen at night waking you up from sleep
    • May be accompanied with a runny nose on one side or nasal stuffiness
    • May cause watering in one eye
    • Can occur at the same time for several days
  • Chronic daily headaches
    • Daily or nearly daily headache for more than 3 months
  • Medication overuse headaches
    • Use of an analgesic more than 3 times weekly for more than 3 months
  • Sinus Headache
    • Pain or pressure occurring behind the brow bone or cheek bone
    • Often accompanied with nasal or sinus congestion
    • Ear fullness

Other Less Common Types of Headaches

Some headaches originate from the neurological system:

  • Post traumatic headaches
    Concussion
    Brain injury
  • Tumors and other causes of increased intracranial pressure
    Pseudotumor cerebral (too much fluid in the brain compartment)
    Subdural hematoma (blood outside the brain but putting pressure on the brain)
  • Cervical spine disorders

Some headaches originate from causes outside the neurological system such as:

  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Sinusitis
  • Sleep apnea

When to Seek Treatment

  • Sudden onset of excruciating pain
  • First or worst headache of your life
  • Worsening pattern of headaches
  • Fever associated with a headache
  • Rapid onset of headache with strenuous exercise
  • Any change in mental status or level of consciousness
  • New headache in patients under 5 or over 50

Clinical Services Available

  • MRI
  • Lab

Treatment Options

  • Medication to prevent or relieve the pain
  • Physical therapy referrals
  • Botox therapy
  • Occipital nerve blocks

Not all headaches require a doctor’s attention. But sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let us know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or pain in the eye or ear. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.

Some information provided by Medline Plus.

A Simple Guide To Echocardiograms

Echocardiograms use ultrasound to evaluate heart and circulatory function.  This non-invasive procedure gives your physician real-time images of the heart in motion.  These real-time images enable your physician to accurately diagnose a wide range of cardiac abnormalities and initiate appropriate treatment.

Why It’s Done

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain. An echocardiogram can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies (fetal echocardiogram).

Types of Echocardiograms

Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram has few if any, risks involved. You may have one of the following kinds of echocardiograms:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram. This is a standard, noninvasive echocardiogram. A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on your chest and then presses a device known as a transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart. The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart. A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

    If your lungs or ribs block the view, you may need a small amount of liquid (contrast agent) injected through an intravenous line (IV) that will make your heart’s structures show up more clearly on a monitor, improving the images.

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram. If it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart with a standard echocardiogram or if there is a reason to see the heart and valves in more detail, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram.

    In this procedure, a flexible tube containing a transducer is guided down your throat and into your esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. From there, the transducer can be positioned to obtain more-detailed images of your heart. Your throat will be numbed, and you’ll have medications to help you relax during a transesophageal echocardiogram.

  • Doppler echocardiogram. When sound waves bounce off blood cells moving through your heart and blood vessels, they change pitch. These changes (Doppler signals) can help your doctor measure the speed and direction of the blood flow in your heart.

    Doppler techniques are used in most transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms, and they can be used to check blood flow problems and blood pressures in the arteries of your heart that traditional ultrasound might not detect. Sometimes the blood flow shown on the monitor is colorized to help your doctor pinpoint any problems.

  • Stress echocardiogram. Some heart problems — particularly those involving the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle — occur only during physical activity.

    For a stress echocardiogram, ultrasound images of your heart are taken before and immediately after walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. If you’re unable to exercise, you may get an injection of a medication to make your heart pump as hard as if you were exercising.

Finally…

 

If you get an “echo” test, you don’t have to stay in the hospital. It’s not surgery and doesn’t hurt. For more information about your heart health, or about becoming a patient at ADC, visit our website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube Channel.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).

Snoring Solutions to Help You Get Better Sleep

Snoring is a common symptom that acts as an alert of sleep apnea. When snoring and sleepiness co-exist, the likelihood of sleep apnea must be considered. Snoring can be problematic, not only for the person snoring but also for anyone nearby.

Diagnosis & Treatment

People who snore make a vibrating, rattling, noisy sound while breathing during sleep. It may be a symptom of sleep apnea. A few other signs might be:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Recent weight gain
  • Awakening in the morning not feeling rested
  • Awaking at night feeling confused
  • Change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
  • Observed pauses in breathing during sleep

Simple, non-invasive testing can be performed to accurately diagnose many leading conditions that may cause snoring or excessive sleepiness. If treatment is necessary, it can be accomplished through a second-night study. In many cases, patients will become more alert and productive the very next day, no surgery or medications required. These conditions can be very quickly corrected, resulting in an improved quality of life, as well as decreasing cardiovascular risks for heart attacks, strokes, and heart irregularities.

Sleep Tips

The good news is that diagnosing and treating these ailments is nothing to lose sleep over. Developing healthy sleep habits will encourage a decrease or elimination in symptoms. Give these a try:

  • Avoid caffeine for six hours before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol for two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes
  • Exercise, but not within 2 hours of bedtime
  • Maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle

Don’t stay in the dark about healthy sleep. Visit the Sleep Center at ADC. Other disorders can also disturb your sleep. They may include periodic movements in sleep, restless legs syndrome, nightmares, panic attacks, sleep walking, sleep talking and many others. Contact Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic to schedule an appointment.

Additional information about sleep disorders can be obtained from the American Sleep Disorders Association or by scheduling an appointment for a consultation with a sleep specialist.

What To Expect From A Nerve Conduction Study

An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. Nerve conduction studies measure how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. Nerves control the muscles in the body with electrical signals called impulses. These impulses make the muscles react in specific ways. Nerve and muscle problems cause the muscles to react in abnormal ways.

During NSC, mild electrical currents are applied to the skin on some parts of your body. This is done to see how quickly impulses travel between nerves. EMG assesses muscle function. To do this, a fine needle is placed under your skin into the muscle being tested. This is repeated on other muscles. The needle allows the electrical activity in your muscles to be measured. No electrical currents are applied with the needle.

During each test, wavy lines (waveforms) appear on a screen or on paper. these lines show how well your nerves and muscles work. These waveforms help to determine your test results.

Before Your Test

Prepare for your test as instructed. Shower or bathe, but don’t use powder, oil, or lotion. your skin should be clean and free of excess oil. Wear loose clothes. Be aware that you may be asked to change into a hospital gown. the entire test will take about 1 hour. Be sure to allow extra time to check in.

During Your Test

You will be asked to lie on an exam table with a blanket over you. You may have one or both of the following:

Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)

Small metal disks (electrodes) will be attached to your skin on the area of your body being tested. This will be done using water based gel or paste. A doctor or technologist will apply mind electrical currents to your skin. Your muscles will twitch. But the test won’t harm you. Currents may again be applied to the same area. Or, the test may continue on other parts of your body.

Electromyography (EMG)

Most of the electrodes will be removed for EMG. The doctor will clean the area being tested with alcohol. A fine needle will be inserted into the muscle in this region. When the needle is inserted, you may feel as if your skin is being pinched. Try to relax and do as instructed.

After Your Test

Before you leave, all electrodes will be removed. You can then get right back to your normal routine. If you feel tired or have some discomfort, take it easy. If you were told to stop taking any for your test, ask when you can start taking them again. Your doctor will let you know when your test results are ready.

For the safety and for the success of your test, tell the technologist if you have any bleeding problems or if you take blood thinners. You may also be asked questions about your overall health. Contact us to answer any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Medicine Health).

Top Questions and Answers About Diabetes

Have a question about diabetes? Get quick answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What Is 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 its 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.

Is There a Cure?

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.

Am I At Risk?

Good news, you can check! Glycohemoglobin 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 patient’s 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.

A visit to the Ophthalmologist 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 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.

What Should my Target Blood Glucose Level be With Diabetes?

Keeping your blood sugar in target will lower your risk of developing complications of diabetes. Target levels will depend on the person and their situation. Your health-care team will help you determine your own targets for blood sugar levels.

Finally…

Whether you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can live a long and healthy life by eating healthy, being physically active, and taking medications (if prescribed) to keep your blood glucose (sugar) in your target range. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.