Understanding and Treating Diabetes During National Diabetes Month

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  • What are the signs you might have diabetes?
  • How is diabetes diagnosed and why are regular screenings important?
  • What are some treatment options for diabetics?

November is National Diabetes Month, and 1 in 5 Americans don’t even know they have diabetes. Valley Health Systems’ Family Medicine Doctor Michael Amos says that the signs you have diabetes can be “a little bit sneaky.”

“Things that we see with our athletes is they are drinking a lot, or having to use the bathroom more,” says Dr. Amos. “Things like maybe not healing as well on your feet or your hands. Some of these things might be subtle signs that we might be looking at something deeper, and we need to take a look at a doctor’s office to see if you might be diabetic.”

Dr. Amos says that testing for diabetes can be pretty simple.

“It’s really easy actually. Sometimes it can be with just the prick of a finger and we get a glucose in-office, which is your blood sugar,” he says. “So we look at that number and depending on where we are in the day, and if you’ve just eaten, or if it’s first thing in the morning, we can take a look at that and see whether or not you’re diabetic.”

Sometimes, people who develop diabetes are completely unaware they have it, so regular check-ups can help watch for the signs.

“In addition to coming in if you feel symptoms, there are also screening recommendations,” says Dr. Amos. “Most people in West Virginia are recommended to be screened for diabetes within the every 1 to 3 year time frame. Sometimes we keep with with their health in routine screenings and we find it on those tests.”

Prevention and early diagnosis are very important.

“The faster you find [diabetes], the better the outcomes can be over a lifetime,” says Dr. Amos. “It is a marathon, not a sprint. We tell patients ‘It might not hurt you to have a high blood sugar today, but having high blood sugars throughout 10-20 years, you will have issues with vision, kidneys, your arteries can have increased plaque and build-up that can lead to heart attack and stroke.’ ...It can affect so many parts of your body.”

Dr. Amos says there are basically three main “classes” for treatment: Pills you can take daily, Insulin shots that you can take, and Non-Insulin injections.

“[Non-insulin injections] are actually the newest on the market, and they show huge promise for people with diabetes to be able to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as keep control of the diabetes that they have,” says Dr. Amos. “It’s very promising because some of them are even just one shot per week.”

Dr. Amos says insurance coverage can vary plan-to-plan, so they use that to help determine what a diabetic patient’s insurance will cover as a treatment option, as well.

If you have any questions or concerns about diabetes, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

Visit valleyhealth.org to learn more.

Valley Health Systems