American Diabetes Month is observed in November and is about raising awareness about diabetes risk factors and its effects on people’s lives. The National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) 2015 theme for the month is “Diabetes Education and Support: Everyone Has a Role. What’s yours?” which highlights the need for ongoing diabetes education and support among people with diabetes, family and caregivers, healthcare professionals as well as the community at large.
Diabetes can lead to severe complications such as heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease, and nerve damage. It is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States.
It is crucial for healthcare providers to realize that patient needs change over time. They should assess, provide, and adjust diabetes self-management education and support among patients. Diabetes self-management education and support improves diabetes outcomes, including
- Helping to reduce A1C levels
- Reducing the onset or advancement of diabetes complications
- Improving lifestyle behaviors, such as maintaining a more healthy diet and exercising more frequently
- Decreasing diabetes-related distress and depression
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently recommended that all obese as well as overweight adults over the age of 40 get their blood sugar tested for diabetes, even if they don’t have symptoms of the condition. Physicians recommend several types of laboratory tests that can help manage diabetes and its deadly effects via early detection, management, and treatment. These include:
- Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – HbA1c diabetes blood test measures average blood sugar in the previous three months to see if it has stayed within a target range. Higher glucose levels in the blood results in higher glycated hemoglobin, which translates into a greater HbA1c reading.
- Blood glucose test – Information from blood glucose tests enables patients to lower their glucose levels through medication, diet, and exercise. Lowering blood glucose reduces the risk of eye disease, kidney disease and nerve disease.
- Cholesterol test – Total Cholesterol test evaluates total cholesterol levels, including LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). Better control of cholesterol can reduce Cardiovascular complications and other complications including heart attack and stroke.
- Kidney Tests – Information from kidney tests such as the creatinine test alerts physicians and patients to potential kidney problems. The test evaluates kidney function by measuring the amount of a waste product called that is in the blood or urine Medications can reduce risk of Kidney disease.
When it comes to diabetes self-management, most people rely on a handheld glucose meter. However, the accuracy of the test would depend on the quality of the meter and the test strips, how well the test is performed, and so on. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that patients compare the results of the results that the glucose meter provides with the results of a blood glucose test performed in a laboratory. Advanced lab instruments allow technicians to make accurate and consistent measurements of blood glucose levels. So if the values obtained on the glucose meter match the laboratory values, patients can be confident that their meter is working well.