Ed­u­ca­tion is key to liv­ing with di­a­betes

Healthy liv­ing ed­u­ca­tion is key to type 2 di­a­betes pre­ven­tion and treat­ment

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - DAILY LOCAL NEWS - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twit­ter

“Pre­ven­tion is the key and un­der­stand­ing your chronic dis­ease so ed­u­ca­tion is a vi­tal part of the treat­ment plan.” — Deb­bie Zlomek, Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc. “It’s re­ally us­ing food as fuel and eat­ing ev­ery two to three hours. That’s what keeps your blood sugar sta­ble.” — Jen Hef­fer­nan, nurse prac­ti­tioner and health coach

T han­ks­giv­ing is right around the cor­ner but the month of Novem­ber cel­e­brates more than the food heavy hol­i­day. Novem­ber is also Na­tional Di­a­betes Aware­ness Month. So be­fore fam­i­lies sit down to a meal of turkey, dress­ing and desserts, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand the dis­ease that af­fects mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

Al­most 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have di­a­betes and 86 mil­lion peo­ple have pre­di­a­betes, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion. The dis­ease can lead to blind­ness, kid­ney fail­ure, heart dis­ease, am­pu­ta­tions and more. There are two types of di­a­betes and both af­fect the in­sulin of the body.

“In­sulin is a sub­stance that your body makes and uses to turn sugar into en­ergy,” ac­cord­ing to Mer­riam-Web­ster Dic­tio­nary.

Type 1 di­a­betes is when the body doesn’t make enough in­sulin. There are no known ways to pre­vent this type of di­a­betes. Type 2 di­a­betes is when the body can’t use in­sulin prop­erly and un­like type 1, type 2 di­a­betes is pre­ventable with life­style changes.

The Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion cur­rently es­ti­mates that one in three peo­ple will de­velop di­a­betes in their life­time. Those with pre­di­a­betes have higher than nor­mal blood sugar lev­els but not high enough to be con­sid­ered di­a­betic. Out of the 86 mil­lion peo­ple that have pre­di­a­betes, about 90 per­cent of them are un­aware they have the con­di­tion.

“15 to 30 per­cent of peo­ple with pre­di­a­betes will de­velop type 2 di­a­betes within five years,” stated the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion.

Deb­bie Zlomek, ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor for the Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc., said di­a­betes is a chronic dis­ease that af­fects mil­lions and there are many peo­ple that don’t re­al­ize they have it.

“It’s a grow­ing epi­demic and we want to be proac­tive,” Zlomek said.

Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc., or PMSI, is a physi­cian-owned group prac­tice with of­fices in Berks, Ch­ester and Mont­gomery Coun­ties. The med­i­cal group had their first an­nual di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown last week. Zlomek said PMSI is an ac­cred­ited di­a­betes pro­gram and they host ed­u­ca­tion classes about the dis­ease ev­ery month.

“Pre­ven­tion is the key and un­der­stand­ing your chronic dis­ease so ed­u­ca­tion is a vi­tal part of the treat­ment plan,” she said.

Kim­berly Slifer, PMSI di­rec­tor of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions, said di­a­betes is linked to a lot of other health con­di­tions which was shown through the va­ri­ety of ven­dors rep­re­sented at the health fair. Peo­ple learned about eye care, nu­tri­tion, sleep­ing qual­ity and more. Slifer said some peo­ple were sur­prised the di­a­betes event in­cluded in­for­ma­tion about sleep wellness.

“Di­a­bet­ics are typ­i­cally over­weight. Over­weight pa­tients snore and are at a higher risk for hav­ing sleep ap­nea,” she said.

Sleep ap­nea is a dis­or­der where a per­son has shal­low breaths or pauses in their breath­ing while they sleep, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Heart, Lung and Blood In­sti­tute.

“As a re­sult, the qual­ity of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired dur­ing the day. Sleep ap­nea is a lead­ing cause of ex­ces­sive day­time sleepi­ness,” stated the in­sti­tute.

Slifer said lack of sleep from the con­di­tion can make it hard for di­a­bet­ics to fol­low instructions for their treat­ment. She said doc­tors usu­ally rec­om­mend reg­u­lar ex­er­cise but a per­son may not have the en­ergy to do so if they have sleep ap­nea.

Donna Rei­der, of the Sleep Wellness Cen­ter of Pottstown, was one of the ven­dors at last week’s health fair. She said sleep ap­nea can ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­ate the con­di­tions that di­a­bet­ics have like high blood pres­sure. Rei­der in­formed at­ten­dees of the fair about three types of CPAP masks that peo­ple with sleep ap­nea wear to help them breathe bet­ter.

“CPAP stands for con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure,” Rei­der said.

Type 2 di­a­betes is a con­di­tion that in­volves the blood sugar lev­els in the body so nu­tri­tion is an im­por­tant part of treat­ment and pre­ven­tion. Jen Hef­fer­nan is a nurse prac­ti­tioner and health coach for Take Shape for Life. Par­tic­i­pants of the nu­tri­tion pro­gram eat six meals a day in­clud­ing op­tions that are or­dered on­line.

“It’s not just a short term fix but we’re re­ally try­ing to make this a life­style change for the long term,” Hef­fer­nan said. “It’s re­ally us­ing food as fuel and eat­ing ev­ery two to three hours. That’s what keeps your blood sugar sta­ble.”

Hef­fer­nan said the nu­tri­tion pro­gram has sev­eral clients that have lost close to 100 pounds or more. She said one lady was on the pro­gram lost 145 pounds.

“She was on in­sulin (di­a­betic med­i­ca­tion) four times a day when I met her. She did the pro­gram for a lit­tle over a year and she is now not even pre­di­a­betic. She’s off all of her med­i­ca­tions,” Hef­fer­nan said.

In ad­di­tion to mak­ing healthy eat­ing de­ci­sions, it’s also im­por­tant for peo­ple to ex­er­cise reg­u­larly to pre­vent di­a­betes or to con­trol the dis­ease.

“30 min­utes of ex­er­cise a day can re­duce your risks of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes by 40 per­cent,” stated the In­ter­na­tional Di­a­betes Fed­er­a­tion.

Kathy Rigg of Dy­namic Phys­i­cal Ther­apy & Aquatic Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ters at­tended the di­a­betes fair to talk about the ex­er­cise pro­grams of­fered. There are cen­ters lo­cated in Me­dia, Pottstown, Lans­dale, Sink­ing Spring and more. She said the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter gets di­a­bet­ics to add more move­ment in their day and some lo­ca­tions of­fer aquatic ther­apy. Mov­ing in the wa­ter is sooth­ing for in­di­vid­u­als that

“It’s a grow­ing epi­demic and we want to be proac­tive.” — Deb­bie Zlomek, Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc.

have di­a­betic nerve pain, Rigg said.

“I know some pa­tients have lost their abil­ity to drive due to neu­ropa­thy,” she said adding that all their cen­ters pro­vide free trans­porta­tion for their pa­tients to fa­cil­i­ties.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc., visit their web­site at www.pm­si­for­life.com. For more in­for­ma­tion about di­a­betes in­clud­ing di­a­betes rates for each state, visit the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion web­site www. di­a­betes.org.

Visit the Fit for Life web­site www.pottsmer­c­fit4life.com for more healthy liv­ing sto­ries in­clud­ing recipes.


A woman learns more about eye care dur­ing a di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown. The chronic dis­ease can lead to blind­ness if left un­treated.

Deb­bie Zlomek, to the far left, is the ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor for Pottstown Med­i­cal Spe­cial­ists Inc. The group med­i­cal prac­tice held their first an­nual di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown last week.


Pottstown YMCA’s Jen Gaj does a blood pres­sure screen­ing on mem­ber Eric Scatchard. High blood pres­sure is a risk fac­tor for type 2 di­a­betes.

A poster dis­play­ing blood glu­cose tar­gets is dis­played at a di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown. Peo­ple with type 2 di­a­betes must mon­i­tor their blood glu­cose, also known as blood sugar, lev­els reg­u­larly.

Types of CPAP sleep­ing ma­chines are dis­played at a di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown. CPAP stands for con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure and the ma­chines are used on in­di­vid­u­als with sleep ap­nea. Many di­a­bet­ics are over­weight and can also have sleep ap­nea.

A ta­ble holds dis­plays about phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and nu­tri­tion dur­ing a di­a­betes health fair in Pottstown. About 30 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have di­a­betes. Type 2 di­a­betes can be pre­vented with life­style changes like ex­er­cise and healthy eat­ing.

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