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Take charge of your diabetes

Miami Herald - 11/28/2023

Have you ever thought about the long-term impact of type 2 diabetes on your health? What happens as diabetes progresses? Are you getting the most out of your doctor visits? The answers may be simpler than you think. Dr. Francisco Solis from Optum — Little Havana explains why understanding the long-term effects of diabetes is crucial for your well-being.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects many people, and knowing what it can do over time is very important for managing your health. If blood sugar is poorly managed, over time it can start to affect different parts of your body. Big blood vessels can be affected, which might lead to problems in your heart, brain and legs. At the same time, smaller blood vessels can also be affected, which can lead to vision problems, kidney trouble and nerve pain.

Regular check-ups are key to effective diabetes management

Your doctor can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control by monitoring your A1C levels, which are a measure of your average blood sugar over the past three months. It is also important to have regular tests for your cholesterol, blood pressure and kidney function.

Lifestyle changes can help manage your blood sugar levels

Adopting a healthy, low-sugar, low-carb diet is critical. Regular exercise complements dietary changes, as it aids in effectively utilizing glucose. It is important to remember that sugar is not naturally harmful; however, it becomes problematic when not properly metabolized. This analogy is like maintaining a car — without using it and providing the right fuel, it will eventually break down.

Success stories in diabetes management

Real-life success stories highlight the profound impact of consistent preventive care for patients with diabetes. Consider the case of a 70-year-old Medicare patient, Carol, who received a Type 2 diabetes diagnoses from her primary care physician. Through dedication to daily walks and dietary improvements, she successfully shed excess weight, ultimately avoiding the need for medication. Carol’s commitment to a healthier way of life and proactive health care continues to produce promising outcomes.

Misconceptions about diabetes

Physicians like Dr. Solis at Optum — Little Havana often encounter common misconceptions about diabetes and its long-term effects. Common misconceptions include:

While family history can influence diabetes risk, lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise play a significant role in type 2 diabetes, regardless of family background.

Some believe that carrying extra weight is the sole cause of diabetes. However, this is an oversimplification. Some people carry extra weight without developing diabetes, indicating that weight is not the only contributing factor.

Although monitoring sugar intake is important, it is a misconception that consuming sugary foods directly causes diabetes. Genetics and overall dietary habits are key factors in diabetes development.

It is a common mistake to think people with diabetes must completely cut out carbohydrates and sugary foods. In reality, having them in controlled amounts within a balanced diet is key.

Some think it is better to put off starting medication as long as possible. However, this can actually make diabetes worse and harder to manage in the long term. With the right diet, exercise regimen and medication, the goal is not perpetual reliance on medication but rather the possibility of minimizing or even discontinuing it, especially for older adults.

What you can do

By visiting your doctor regularly and prioritizing your health, you can take charge of your diabetes. Early recognition and intervention can prevent complications and promote better overall health for individuals living with diabetes.

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