by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems, such as heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease.
An estimated 30.3 million people in the United States, or 9.4 percent of the population, have diabetes. Mille Lacs Health System has a robust diabetes education program designed to help patients better understand and manage their disease through education regarding healthy eating, exercise, diabetes medication, and glucose monitoring.
There is something new in the MLHS Diabetes Education program’s toolbox. People with diabetes know that checking their blood sugars daily is an essential part of managing diabetes. Generally, the frequency of testing depends on the type of diabetes someone has and their own treatment plan. A medical device called a continuous glucose monitor can now provide those who live with diabetes a more complete picture of glucose levels.
The device employs a needle – which is as thin as a strand of hair – that stays in the skin for 3-7 days. It’s worn on the abdomen or arm, and the results are downloaded and viewed by the patient and those on the diabetes care team. It provides a 24/7 snapshot, revealing glucose fluctuations that finger sticks and even A1c tests can miss because it checks the blood sugar once every 5 minutes. The device gives the healthcare provider insights into how food, medication, and daily activities really affect glucose levels. It also helps the clinician tailor treatment recommendations so there’s better control of blood sugars.
“For many patients, it’s an eye-opener to how even small changes in lifestyle can affect glucose levels, and ultimately, their health,” said Deanna. “The indications for use can be sporadic blood sugars throughout the day, and/or the problem of low blood sugars that could be occurring in the middle of the night, which can be very dangerous for the patient with diabetes.”
Mille Lacs Health System’s Diabetes Education program holds monthly support groups, and periodic educational presentations for people living with diabetes. Look to MLHS’s quarterly newsletter the House Call for more information, or go to MLHS’s website for details.