Living Healthy with Diabetes

J. Black photo 2010Your health matters

By Dr. Judith Black, medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.

Diabetes is the most common disorder of the endocrine system and affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. alone. Did you know as people age, their risk for developing type 2 diabetes increases? In fact, about one in four people over the age of 60 has diabetes. If you have diabetes, you know that it’s a serious disease. But even though you have this condition, you can take steps to stay healthy. The key is to get involved.

Diabetes can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other complications. While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed through proper care by getting plenty of exercise, working with your doctor and eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet.

Regular screenings are a big part of that process, too. These vital tests allow you and your doctor to catch problems early on and treat them if needed.

  • Cholesterol Checkups: Blood tests that help monitor cholesterol and triglycerides. You should have this tested two times a year.
  • A1C Tests: Blood tests that monitor your average blood glucose level during the past two to three months. You should have your A1C checked at least twice a year.
  • Kidney Function Tests: Urine tests to ensure your kidneys are functioning correctly. You should have this test once per year.
  • Retinal Eye Exams: Tests performed by an eye care specialist that help detect disease and prevent loss of eyesight. You should see your eye care specialist once per year for this important test.

It’s also very important that you talk to your doctor and make sure you’re taking the appropriate medications necessary to treat your condition. He or she can make sure you’re taking the correct dosage of everything you need and address any concerns you may have. When you have questions, your doctor is always your best resource. If you haven’t done so, be sure to have a discussion with your doctor about the above screenings and which options are best for you.

You may want to consider creating a diabetes care team that includes your doctor, a registered dietitian, a diabetes educator and a member of your family or a close friend. As a team, you can work together to help care for your diabetes.

Finally, make a commitment to manage your diabetes. By focusing on what you can control and making small changes to your lifestyle on a daily basis, you will be able to better manage your condition and live a long, healthy life because your health matters.

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