Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Recently Answered

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    Alternative blood glucose monitoring, such as the upper arm, thigh, calf, and palm, is available with some blood glucose meters. Make sure to check your meter for the availability of this feature before using alternate sites. Alternate sites will give you more options, but these sites may not be as consistently accurate as your fingertips. For example, readings from alternate sites may vary after eating, taking insulin, or during low blood glucose periods. 

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    Some glucose meters are so small that they fit on a vial of strips, while others are larger, so people with big hands can handle them easily. Small meters are easy to slip into your pocket or purse. However, if you have trouble with small hand and finger movements, you may want to consider a larger meter. Larger meters may be heavier and clumsier to carry around. Some meters have rubber grips that make them easy to hold.

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    You may be surprised when you go to buy replacement strips for your blood glucose meter. The meter that seemed like a bargain at the time of purchase may turn into a major expense when it comes time to pay for strips, especially if you don’t get reimbursed for them by your health care insurance. In the long run, the strips will cost you more than the meter itself. Most meters will only use one kind of strip. 

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    AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered
    You should check your insurance plan before buying a blood glucose meter to make sure it's covered. Some insurance companies only cover certain meters, so you may not get reimbursed if you buy a different one. Call your insurance company first and ask about the types of meters that they will cover. Once you know what's covered, shop around for the best meter that's covered, at the best price.
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    To choose the right blood glucose meter, you may want to consider several aspects: insurance coverage, your budget, ease of use, test site, your schedule, your vision, your support system, user-friendliness, accuracy, meter size, meter memory, data management systems, language, battery and machine replacement, blood contamination, and convenience.
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    There are several blood glucose meters that check more than blood glucose. One meter measures blood glucose and ketones. Another measures blood glucose, ketones, and lipids (including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and.triglycerides).
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    You’ll have to take special precautions if you are pregnant and become unconscious.

    •  You may need only half the normal dose of glucagon at the beginning of
       a severe episode of hypoglycemia.

    •  After 15 minutes, if you do not regain consciousness or your blood
       glucose levels do not rise, you need another shot and someone should
       call 911 for emergency help.

    •  Make sure that those with whom you spend time know that you are
       pregnant and know what to do if you have a low blood glucose episode.

    Ask your health care provider about the dose of glucagon you need

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    A good source of information about these devices is the American Diabetes Association Consumer Guide published yearly by Diabetes Forecast, the members’ magazine of the American Diabetes Association. The Consumer Guide is also available online at forecast.diabetes.org/consumerguide.
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    If you have diabetes and your blood glucose readings are consistently higher or lower than your target, or if you get a reading that is unexpectedly high or low, this could indicate a problem. Discuss with your health care team in advance what you should do if your readings are way off scale. If you detect patterns in your glucose levels that indicate a need to adjust your plan, let the team know. For example, you may find that your blood glucose levels tend to be high when you check in the morning. This could be because your body is “rebounding” from a very low blood glucose level while you sleep. Try checking your blood around 3 a.m. If you discover hypoglycemia, treat it as you normally would.
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    Choosing blood glucose goals can be easy. You can simply use the guidelines supported by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). These recommendations are based on the findings from research about preventing complications.

    ADA Blood Glucose Goals:

    Before meals: 70-130 mg/dl

    Two hours after the first bite of a meal: less than 180 mg/dl

    However, the ADA’s goals may not be easy for you to reach. Or they may not be right for you. Talk to your provider to determine the right blood glucose targets for you.