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Manage Your Diabetes to Avoid Emergency Room Visits

March 29, 2011

Washington Hospital Seminar Offers Tips for Working With Your Health Care Team

Keeping your diabetes under control can be difficult. Just about everything you do affects your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Your health care team can help you manage the chronic disease and avoid serious complications, as well as unnecessary trips to the emergency room.

"There are times when a call to your health care team can prevent serious health emergencies," said Vida Reed, R.N., a certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. "It’s important to know when to call."

She will present "Diabetes Management: When to Call for Help" from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5. The seminar will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditoriums located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. You can register online at www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070 for more information.

Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or is not able to use it properly. Insulin helps the body process glucose, which fuels the body. When this process doesn’t work properly, glucose levels can get abnormally high, which can harm the body.

If current trends continue, one in three people will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has serious implications for health. The CDC reports that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness, kidney failure, and non-traumatic lower-extremity amputations among adults. It also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

"Disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes," Reed said. "You can avoid serious complications by controlling your blood glucose and blood pressure, and getting the needed preventive care like eye exams."

She will talk about ways you can work with your health care team to manage your diabetes, as well as tips for knowing when to call your physician or other health care professionals. According to Reed, your diabetes health care team could include your doctor, endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator, dietitian, eye doctor, podiatrist, dentist, and physical trainer. All of these medical professionals can help you stay on track and avoid some of the complications of diabetes.

Take Control

Part of knowing when to call on your health care team requires taking control of your diabetes by paying close attention to your blood glucose levels and other health issues, Reed said. For example, she said it’s important to routinely examine your feet for sores, pay attention to any changes in your eyesight, and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

"Pain or discomfort should not be ignored, so it’s important to contact your health care team," Reed said. "Chest pain, pain in your legs or when you urinate, blurred vision, are all symptoms that should be investigated by your doctor."

She encourages people with diabetes to wear a medical identification bracelet in case of health emergencies. Sometimes people behave differently or are incoherent when their blood sugar gets too low, so it’s important for people who come to your aid to know you have diabetes, she explained.

There is no doubt that keeping your diabetes and other risk factors under control can prevent premature death and disability. According to the CDC:

  • Blood glucose control reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases among people with diabetes by about 40 percent.
  • Blood pressure control reduces the risk for heart disease and stroke among people with diabetes by 33 to 50 percent. It reduces the risk for eye, kidney, and nerve diseases by about 33 percent.
  • Detecting and treating diabetic eye disease with laser therapy can reduce the risk for loss of eyesight by 50 to 60 percent. Comprehensive foot care programs can reduce amputation rates by 45 to 85 percent.

"Properly managing your diabetes is critical for staying healthy," Reed said. "Working closely with your health care team can help."

Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center

The Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center offers a full array of education programs and services that are facilitated by a team of certified diabetes educators. These specialists work with people individually and they also facilitate group discussions related to diabetes education. Our staff can work with you on developing an approach that can teach you how to manage your condition and live successfully with diabetes. To learn more about the programs and services at the Washington Outpatient Diabetes Center, visit www.whhs.com/diabetes or call (510) 745-6556 for more information.