Stop The High And Low Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

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“You could live a normal life.” Those were the words that 15-year-old Steve Edelman kept hearing from the nurses when he was hospitalized following his type 1 diabetes diagnosis in 1970. He wondered why they kept repeating this to him.

As a patient and a physician who treats people with diabetes, Dr. Edelman understands the challenges faced by the nearly 26 million Americans with the disease. He founded Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD), a nonprofit organization that holds conferences featuring programs and resources to help educate and empower people with diabetes.“I started to get worried,” recalls Dr. Edelman, an endocrinologist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “But it soon became clear that I’d have to learn to control my diabetes if I wanted to live a healthy, full life.”

Dr. Edelman notes that it is especially important for patients to overcome the fear factor. “Some of the biggest barriers I’ve observed that prevent people from controlling their diabetes are emotional ones,” says Dr. Edelman. Fear, misconceptions and depression can be powerful derailers of proper care. While people are afraid of complications, many also fear what they’ll find when they really examine their diabetes. Dr. Edelman says that it’s not uncommon for people to equate blood sugar levels with their own self-worth. These attitudes can sometimes lead patients to “forget” to get their lab tests or to bring their log books or meters to their doctor for review.

Dr. Edelman also emphasizes that regular blood glucose testing is a critical part of good diabetes management. Testing provides key insights that allow patients and their health care providers to adjust treatment as necessary and to see how food choices, activity and many other factors affect blood sugar levels throughout the day.

When treating highs and lows, it’s important to be proactive in looking for root causes in order to take steps to prevent them in the future. “Otherwise, if people just treat them in the moment and move on, they can get on a roller coaster of reacting to patterns of highs and lows over and over again without even realizing they may be connected,” he says.

Fortunately, advances in blood glucose monitoring technology are making this easier. The OneTouch VerioIQ Meter with PatternAlert Technology is the first meter to find patterns of high and low blood sugar and provide alerts right on the screen. With every test, the meter compares the current result with previous results and alerts the patient when it finds a pattern. This enables the patient and their health care professional to more easily recognize the issue and take action to correct potential problems.

“This is particularly important for people taking insulin because they have the greatest risk of experiencing low blood sugar which can be dangerous,” explains Dr. Edelman. “So identifying and correcting a developing pattern of low blood sugars as early as possible is key.”

Dr. Edelman offers other suggestions for successful diabetes management. He advises patients to talk to their doctor about diet and exercise. He also recommends taking notes between visits about any concerns patients may have, and he encourages talking about other factors, such as stress, that could affect blood sugar levels.

“Managing diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Dr. Edelman. “Get educated, take advantage of the latest tools, and never give up hope because it’s never too late to take control of your diabetes.”

For information about TCOYD, visit tcoyd.org.