World Diabetes Day: Access to Care in Massachusetts

World Diabetes Day (WDD) is November 14 and is a globally recognized event that serves as a rallying point to raise awareness about diabetes, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide.

Focusing on Access to Diabetes Care:

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2021 to 2023 is “Access to Diabetes Care.”

This theme underscores the critical importance of ensuring that all people, regardless of their background or location, have access to diabetes care.

This includes:

  • Diagnosis and testing: early detection and accurate diagnosis are vital for effective diabetes management.
  • Treatment and medications: access to necessary medications, including insulin, is a fundamental right for people with diabetes.
  • Education and support: providing education and support services to people with diabetes and their families is essential.
  • Preventive measures: promotion of healthy lifestyle and diabetes prevention initiatives.
  • Equality in health care: ensuring that diabetes care is equitable and accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic factors.

World Diabetes Day

Living with Diabetes: Understanding Symptoms, Diagnosis and Questions to Ask your Physician

Recognizing Early Symptoms:

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by elevated blood sugar levels.

While there are different types of diabetes, the most common are type 1 and type 2.

Early symptoms are often subtle and may include:

  • Frequent urination – especially at night, is a common early sign. This occurs as your body tries to eliminate excess glucose through urine.
  • Excessive thirst: you may feel unusually thirsty, even if you have been drinking enough water. Your body’s increased urination dehydrates you, causing a constant feeling of thirst.
  • Unexplained weight loss: If you are losing weight without making significant changes in your diet or physical activity, it could be due to your body’s inability to use glucose for energy, forcing you to burn fat and muscle for fuel.
  • Fatigue: High blood sugar levels can cause exhaustion and lack of energy, making even daily tasks seem more challenging.
  • Blurred vision: Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes and cause vision problems.
  • Slow wound healing: Diabetes affects the body’s ability to heal wounds, so injuries may take longer to heal.

How to Know If You Have Diabetes:

Here’s what you can expect during the diagnostic process:

  • Blood glucose tests: Your doctor will likely start with blood tests to measure your fasting blood sugar levels. This can help determine if you have elevated glucose levels.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: If your fasting blood sugar test is inconclusive, your doctor may recommend this test. You will fast overnight and then your blood sugar levels will be measured at intervals after consuming a sugar solution.
  • Hemoglobin A1c test: This blood test reflects your average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. It is an essential tool for diagnosing diabetes and monitoring its management.

Type 1 or type 2 diagnosis: the diagnostic process will also identify whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, which is crucial for tailoring your treatment plan.

World Diabetes Day: Questions to Ask Your Doctor:

What type of diabetes do I have? Understanding the type of diabetes you have will guide your treatment and management plan.

What should my target blood sugar levels be? Establishing and maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels is key to managing diabetes. Your doctor can provide you with specific goals.

What lifestyle changes are required? Lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and stress management, play an important role in controlling diabetes.

What medications are right for me? Depending on your type and severity of your diabetes, you may need insulin or oral medications. Discuss the best options for your situation.

How often should I check my blood sugar? Regular monitoring is essential to track your progress and make adjustments as needed.

What are the possible complications of diabetes? Understanding potential complications, such as heart disease, kidney problems and vision problems, can motivate you to stay proactive.

Do I need to see a diabetes educator or nutritionist? These specialists can provide valuable information on how to manage your diabetes through diet and lifestyle.

Diabetes Care Resources in Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers a variety of resources and support services for people living with diabetes.

  • Joslin Diabetes Center: specializes in diabetes care, research and education. They offer comprehensive care, resources and support for people living with diabetes.
  • American Diabetes Association (ADA): has local chapters in Massachusetts that provide information, advocacy and support to individuals and families affected by diabetes.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Diabetes Center: provides specialized care for patients with diabetes. The center focuses on research, treatment, and education, and is a valuable resource for the community.
  • Joint program of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Joslin Diabetes Center: this program provides specialized care for people with diabetes and cancer, offering coordinated support to effectively manage both conditions.
  • MassHealth: The state’s Medicaid program, which provides health care services to eligible low-income residents, including diabetes care and management.

It is important to consult with a health care professional for personalized guidance on diabetes management and to determine the resources best suited to your specific needs.

World Diabetes Day: Diabetes Myths

Dr. Linette Bosques, a physician in Boston, Massachusetts, joined “La Hora del Café”, from El Mundo Boston, to talk about myths related to diabetes.

With a solid medical background obtained at Yale School of Medicine and several years of experience under her belt, she shared her knowledge by demystifying common Diabetes beliefs and myths.

The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.

Readers should direct any questions regarding their personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.