Adena Health Focus October 29, 2020

Diabetes Diagnosis -- Don’t Get Discouraged!

Jill Hopkins is a Registered Licensed Dietician who has counselled many new and existing diabetic patients. She has been serving Adena patients for over 35 years. Her passion is teaching patients that diabetes is manageable, and how they can continue to live happy, healthy and long-lasting lives.

Answer to Diabetes? You Bet There Is

“When I consult a patient for the first time who has received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, I let them know right away that they can control diabetes, it doesn’t have to control them. And, if they take care of themselves, they can live a long and healthy life,” says Hopkins. Many people think that long-term diabetes complications like losing a foot, blindness or dialysis are inevitable outcomes, but Hopkins strongly reinforces this is not the case. Adena has many resources, like Hopkins and her team of dieticians, Adena physicians and certified diabetes educators who work together with patients to help them best face and manage the challenges of diabetes. 

Pause for The Cause

Diabetes is a disease that affects how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose provides energy to your cells, tissue, muscles and brain and is regulated by insulin. People with diabetes are not able to produce insulin as they should. This impacts the amount of glucose that remains in their bloodstream, causing high blood sugar levels which can lead to more serious health issues over time. Symptoms of diabetes are increased tiredness or fatigue, increased hunger or thirst, unexpected weight loss, frequent urination, blurred vision and slow healing cuts, bruises or skin infections.

What’s Your Type?

There are three types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. 

Type 1

Most frequently occurs in children or adolescents

Body produces very little or no insulin

Type 2

More common in adults, but is increasingly seen in children with the rise of childhood obesity, inactivity and unhealthy diets

Patient’s body does not make good use of the insulin that it produces, causing blood glucose levels to keep rising

Gestational

Occurs in pregnant women

Blood sugar levels become high during pregnancy

 According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year; 90 percent of which are patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Old Habits, New Tricks

“Many of the patients we see with Type 2 diabetes have unhealthy lifestyles which lead to them to being overweight or possibly obese and subsequently their diagnosis,” says Hopkins. She works with the Adena medical staff to interview patients and set an individualized course in how to approach their health and diabetes management. With many of the Type 2 patients being 65 and over (nearly 29%), it can often be challenging to help people change lifelong habits. But Hopkins and the Adena teams work with patients to make incremental changes to the patient’s lifestyle and not get discouraged. “At first, we identify just a few small things they can change to help improve their diet and health, like eliminating soda, energy drinks or sweet tea, or by choosing an apple over a cookie,” says Hopkins. “Initially we shoot to have a person lose 5-10 percent of their body weight which can make a big impact in their health and how they feel.” The team continues guiding and counselling the patient in a reasonable step-by-step process so that old habits can be replaced with new, healthier behaviors.

A1c is the Key

A1c stands for glycated hemoglobin and represents a percentage of how much sugar is attached to the blood's hemoglobin protein. The A1c test measures of how well your body has controlled the amount of sugar in the blood over the past two to three months. Monitoring your A1c is critical for diabetes management and health improvement. The following chart gives guidance on A1c levels, but patient’s A1c goals may be determined more by their health and other medical conditions. A1c testing is not a replacement for blood sugar testing which for most diabetics should be tested at least 2-3 times a day.

A1c Levels

Normal

Below 5.7%

Prediabetes

5.7% to 6.4%

Diabetes          

6.5% or above

 

Tips, Tools & Tech

Hopkins and the Nutrition Services team are very experienced in training patients in diabetes management and control. They use tools like plastic food models and properly proportioned plates, cups and bowls to instill healthy food choices and portion control in patients. They advise new patients to bring a family member or loved one who can help encourage and support a patient with their new diet choices and health journey. Patients can utilize the convenience of telehealth visits to make regular check-ins. And there are also a number of technology applications (apps) that can help monitor blood sugar, food intake, sleep and exercise. Helping a patient gain control of their life is how they gain control over diabetes. “There are many tools and technology that can help patients today,” says Hopkins. “We want patients to know that they are not alone and that Adena is here to help them take control of their diabetes and their overall health.”