What you need to know about diabetes

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - NEWS - By Siloam Springs Re­gional Hospi­tal

After a rou­tine eye exam, your physi­cian no­tices some reti­nal dam­age and tells you it’s time to get tested for Type 2 diabetes. How can your provider know you have diabetes just by check­ing your eyes?

With Type 2 diabetes, your body does not re­spond prop­erly to in­sulin. In­sulin is a hor­mone pro­duced by the pan­creas that helps con­vert sugar in the blood into en­ergy. When you be­come in­sulin re­sis­tant, sugar builds up in the blood in­stead of be­ing used by your cells. To check for diabetes, your physi­cian will per­form one or more tests to mea­sure the amount of glu­cose (sugar) in your blood.

If you’re in­ter­ested in a free diabetes screen­ing, North­west Health Ur­gent Care in Siloam Springs, 3721 U.S. 412 Hwy., will host a free diabetes screen­ing event from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tues­day, Nov. 13, at the clinic. Regis­tra­tion is not re­quired. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 479-2153124.

Slowly but surely

In­sulin re­sis­tance and Type 2 diabetes don’t hap­pen overnight. Many peo­ple de­velop diabetes over a number of years, as their body slowly be­comes more and more re­sis­tant to in­sulin. As more sugar builds up in the body over time, the amount of dam­age done gets worse.

Over time, high blood sugar can dam­age your heart, eyes, kid­neys and nerves. The longer your blood sugar is un­con­trolled, the worse the dam­age can get.

North­west Health Eye Clinic of­fers com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­ams and in­of­fice pro­ce­dures for treat­ment of mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion, glau­coma, di­a­betic eye dis­ease and cos­metic fea­tures for the aging face. John A. Billings­ley III, M.D., is a board-cer­ti­fied oph­thal­mol­o­gist and mem­ber of the Siloam Springs Re­gional Hospi­tal Med­i­cal Staff. He per­forms cataract and glau­coma surgery in ad­di­tion to ocu­lo­plas­tic pro­ce­dures and emer­gency surg­eries at the Siloam Springs Re­gional Hospi­tal out­pa­tient eye surgery suite. To sched­ule an ap­point­ment to­day, call 479524-6115.

Tak­ing con­trol

The good news is you can prevent com­pli­ca­tions from diabetes by con­trol­ling your blood sugar. Be­cause dam­age from diabetes can take years, it’s im­por­tant to make sus­tain­able lifestyle changes. To con­trol your sugar over time, use these tips:

• Get ed­u­cated. Talk to your physi­cian about resources in your area for diabetes ed­u­ca­tion. Usu­ally cov­ered by in­surance, these classes of­fer com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion about diabetes, pre­vent­ing prob­lems and glu­cose con­trol. The more you know, the more you can make smart, healthy choices.

• Make more move­ment.

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise helps lower your blood sugar with­out medicine, in­creases blood flow, and can help burn ex­tra calo­ries and fat. Be­fore chang­ing your ex­er­cise rou­tine, talk to your provider.

• Eat smart. Hav­ing diabetes doesn’t mean never eat­ing cake or choco­late again. How­ever, a bal­anced diet is key to good sugar con­trol. Talk to your doc­tor about how much fat, pro­tein and car­bo­hy­drates you should be get­ting ev­ery day.

• Check your sugar.

With an at-home glu­cose mon­i­tor, you can know your blood sugar level with just a prick of a fin­ger. Set a test­ing sched­ule so you know what’s nor­mal for you and how well your treat­ment plan is work­ing.

• Man­age med­i­ca­tions.

There are oral pills and in­jectable in­sulin avail­able for pa­tients with diabetes who need help con­trol­ling their blood sugar.

What is A1C?

When you have diabetes, you have a build up of sugar in the blood. The A1C test is a blood test that checks your blood sugar lev­els over a pe­riod of three months. The re­sults are a per­cent­age that tells you if you have diabetes, and how well it’s be­ing con­trolled.

An A1C test pro­vides doc­tors with in­sight into your av­er­age blood glu­cose level dur­ing a two- or three-month pe­riod. A fast­ing plasma glu­cose test de­ter­mines how much glu­cose is in your blood after fast­ing for at least eight hours. The oral glu­cose tol­er­ance test (which is fa­mil­iar to preg­nant women) in­volves test­ing glu­cose lev­els both be­fore and two hours after you drink a very sweet drink.

Nor­mal A1C is 5.7 per­cent or less. If you have an A1C of 6.5 per­cent or higher, you have diabetes. If you are be­tween 5.7 and 6.4 per­cent, you have pre­di­a­betes. When you have pre­di­a­betes, your blood sugar is higher than nor­mal, but not yet at di­a­betic lev­els.

Once di­ag­nosed with diabetes, you should have your A1C checked reg­u­larly (in ad­di­tion to daily blood sugar checks) to know how well your diabetes is man­aged.

Siloam Springs Re­gional Hospi­tal will host a Di­a­betic Nu­tri­tion class at 12 p.m. Nov. 13 for the com­mu­nity. If you would like to at­tend, please call 479215-3125 to re­serve a space to­day. There is not charge and ev­ery­one is wel­come to at­tend.

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