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Experts present techniques to combat diabetes

November 23, 2016

Understanding diabetes holds the key to managing the malady and several often-overlooked techniques were presented at Alliance Community Hospital's Diabetes Management Seminar held Nov. 3 at the hospital.

Three experts in their respective fields provided detailed explanations followed by discussions from the 42 attendees about the importance of immunizations, getting the proper sleep and proper foot care for the diabetic population.

Becky Glista, BSN, RN and infection preventionist at ACH, led off the program with the importance of keeping the immune system in working order. "Think of your immune system as body armor in the war against germs or invaders," Glista said. "Then, think of your antibodies as the soldiers who are fighting off the invaders."

According to Glista, diabetes affects the immune system in a way that makes it more difficult to fight off outside threats such as flu, Hepatitis B, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Therefore, the best protection of the immune system is to get vaccinated against these diseases.

Mary Wilkes, LPN, stressed the importance of good sleep and suggested that those with recurring sleep problems may affect overall health. "According to sleep studies, 40 percent of those diagnosed with sleep apnea are likely to develop diabetes," Wilkes said. "Our studies show that seven to eight hours of sleep per night are essential to good health."

Wilkes said ACH offers a two-night diagnostic test through its Sleep Disorders Center to help patients determine the causes of their sleeplessness or to determine whether or not the patient has sleep apnea.

Rebecca McGaha, DPM, and resident podiatrist, led a session on the importance of recognizing the warning signs of diabetes because of warning signs in the feet.

According to McGaha, among the warning signs are a tingling or loss of feeling in the feet, redness, a change in the shape of the feet, loss of hair, and cuts and scrapes that are slow to heal. "Patients who are diabetic often complain that they cannot feel their feet," McGaha said.

Like any disease, early detection is an important factor in being able to treat diabetes. McGaha said a simple foot exam can reveal symptoms of diabetes and identify more serious complications and thus avoid advanced symptoms that could lead to lower-limb amputations.

"A regular foot exam by a podiatrist is suggested in order to look for signs and symptoms of diabetes," she said.

She added that the best way to reduce one's risk for diabetes is to make lifestyle changes that include quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising regularly and changing to a healthy diet.


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