Once diabetes has settled in, following a healthy lifestyle is very important. That means eating the right foods, getting regular exercise, and avoiding things like smoking and drinking too much alcohol. But, there’s another consideration as well, when it comes to protecting your health from the symptoms of diabetes: make sure you access all the health services that are available to you. By getting regular checkups and participating in diabetes programs in your neighborhood, you could significantly lower your risk for suffering from other health conditions associated with diabetes.
Researchers in Mexico recently conducted a clinical trial to measure the effects of a program to control type 2 diabetes. Adults without social security health benefits and patients with a diagnosis of diabetes were invited to participate in the program. The program devised by the researchers was meant to keep tabs on glucose levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The program also aimed to educate participants about the prevention of diabetic retinopathy (a disease affecting your eye health), foot ulceration, infection, or joint problems related to diabetes, and diabetic nephropathy (a form of kidney disease).
The researchers noted that only seven percent of individuals with diabetes participated in the program. Of those, the researchers received measurements for total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in roughly half the patients. This compared with the almost 100% who had their blood pressure checked. A total of 64.8% of patients made use of the education portion of the study. The biggest gaps in accessing diabetic services were in the areas of detection of illness, LDL cholesterol control, glucose control, and nephropathy prevention.
The researchers concluded that the biggest challenge to overcome is finding diabetics, because a large number of people with type 2 diabetes just don’t use health services, and the system is not set up to search for them. That means that if you’re diabetic and you don’t access any services, no one is going to come knocking on your door to suggest that you do. Also, the researchers noted that medical actions that have to be paid for by patients tend to be used less and, surprisingly, tend to be of lower quality.
If you have diabetes, get your doctor’s advice about what services are available to you. Get educated about diabetes risk factors, and go for regular checkups.
For more on managing diabetes, read An Inside Look at Diabetes.