Diabetes
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Millions of Americans have taken control of their diabetes by following the advice of an experienced healthcare team; controlling their blood sugar through proper monitoring and medication; and educating themselves so they can take the necessary steps to live a healthier lifestyle.

MONITORING DIABETES
For people who are at-risk of getting diabetes, Medicare Part B covers two blood sugar tests per year. At-risk seniors are those who have any of the following: high blood pressure, obesity, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels or a history of high blood sugar. The Fasting Plasma Glucose Test is considered the fastest and easiest test to perform. This blood test is performed after a person has fasted for at least 8 hours. A fasting blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes and a level of 126 mg/dl or higher signals diabetes. For further information about Medicare-covered tests, please call us at 1-800-Medicine (1-800-633-4246).

Testing

Blood Sugar
Once you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to test your blood sugar levels several times (up to 4 times) each day. Some people think they can tell if their blood sugar is too high or low by how they feel. This is highly discouraged as it is an extremely inaccurate assessment. It is only through self-testing with state-of-the-art monitoring devices (link to products) that you will receive 100 percent accuracy. Good self-management will help you lower your risk of future problems of diabetes.

A1C is a blood test that shows your average blood sugar levels over the period of a couple of months. This number can be different than your daily reading because if you’re only testing at one specific time of day, you aren’t monitoring the blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day. The way the test works is that sugar sticks to proteins like hemoglobin in your blood. Once the sugar is on the hemoglobin, it stays on the protein for 3-4 months, or for the life of the red blood cell. If your A1C number is over 7 percent, you need to talk to your doctor about getting your diabetes under control.

Eyes
Eye disease is a common complication of diabetes. Medicare Part B covers tests for the eye disease glaucoma once a year for those people with diabetes.

FACTORS:
There are many factors that affect your blood glucose levels. Some of these include:

Stress: Studies have shown that stress affects diabetics differently than the general population. In people without diabetes, the body senses Physical (injury or illness) or mental (family problems, finances, etc.) stress, the levels of many hormones skyrocket and glucose and fat are sent to the cells. In people with diabetes, there isn’t enough insulin to allow the extra energy into the cells so it results in an elevated amount of glucose in the blood. It has been proven that people who employ methods such as breathing exercises, relaxation therapy, yoga, support groups, or in more serious cases, therapy, have lower blood glucose levels.

Physical Activity: Physical Activity has been proven to be a catalyst in getting healthy, especially for older adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes. If you’ve never exercised before, you’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel once you start moving. However, before you start any physical activity, it’s important to talk to your doctor so he/she can put together an exercise plan that is right for you.

Diet: Along with managing stress, exercising, and taking medication, your diet is crucial to your success in keeping your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. Learning about proper nutrition in the correct amount is a little intimidating to some people so Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy when it is referred by a doctor. These services would include diet counseling by a registered dietician or nutrition professional and therapy services to help you better manage your diet. In addition, there are many on-line tools to help you. The American Diabetes Association’s Web site has a list of recipes, meal plans, a guide to eating out, among other helpful resources. They also have MyFoodAdvisor tm http://www.diabetes.org/nutrition-and-recipes/nutrition/overview.jsp that allows you to enter in the foods you eat and it keeps track of the calories and carbohydrates and steers you toward a healthier alternative.

MEDICATIONS OVERVIEW
The type of medication that you are prescribed by your doctor will depend on your type of diabetes. Before trying any new medication, please tell your doctor if you are taking any additional medications in order to avoid any negative interactions.

Pills:
If you have Type 2 diabetes and have taken all of the necessary precautions to bring down your glucose levels but they’re still high, your doctor might prescribe medication. You’ll have to talk to your doctor about which pill or oral combination is right for you. In many cases, you may need to try several pills or a combination plus insulin until a powerful solution is found for you. A list of the different types of pills can be found on the American Diabetic Association’s Web site.

Insulin:
Type 1 diabetics don’t make the hormone insulin and insulin is necessary to control glucose levels. Without insulin, you can be in a state of starvation since many of your cells do not receive the calories contained in the glucose without the action of insulin. Insulin is administered by a shot or pump. Talk to your doctor about the recommended dose for you.

For assistance with ordering these Medicare-approved products or for a list of tests that are covered, call toll free 1-800-Medicine (1-800-633-4246) or click here and one of our professional representatives will call you.
 
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*No purchase necessary. This free meter offer is available to any Medicare beneficiary who calls and responds to questions on the telephone. The free meter offer is not tied to a purchase of other items. The meter offer is provided by the manufacturer.