Diabetes refers to several metabolic disorders where the body cannot properly utilize glucose, which serves as the main energy source for the body. To compensate, people with diabetes need to follow a structured diet and take regular medications to avoid life-threatening complications.
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is vital for people with diabetes, and having access to primary care helps patients make the necessary lifestyle changes and manage their condition well. As such, primary care is a strong factor in determining the overall outcomes of diabetes management.
How Diabetes Works
Diabetes typically comes in two main forms. In type I diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone that enables cells to take in glucose and utilize it for energy. In type II diabetes, the body becomes resistant to natural levels of insulin. As a consequence of both, the cells of the body are unable to use enough energy from glucose for normal maintenance and operation. Blood sugar levels rise, eventually causing damage to blood vessels and various organ systems.
Diabetes treatment depends on the disease type. Timed insulin injections for type I disease help replace falling levels of endogenous insulin and prevent glucose levels from rising excessively. Medications, weight loss, dietary changes, and exercise are recommended for managing type II diabetes, as they can help restore insulin sensitivity.
Preventing blood sugar spikes or dips is an essential part of managing both conditions. Diabetes compromises many of the metabolic processes that regulate blood sugar. Eating foods with high glycemic indices can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, receiving too much insulin can cause hypoglycemia, a dangerous drop in glucose levels.
How Primary Care Helps
Primary care plays a key role in every step of diabetes management. Primary care physicians can help diagnose the condition, recommend treatment options, and monitor the effectiveness of diabetes management. The long-term nature of diabetes management makes consistent access to primary care a necessity for good medical outcomes.
Diabetes can be initially asymptomatic. Some symptoms, such as headaches and blurred vision, can mimic other conditions. More distinguishing symptoms, such as increased thirst and urination, may not be known to everyone as hallmark signs of diabetes. Regular primary care checkups increase the chances that your doctor will spot these signs, making early detection and treatment possible. With prompt treatment, the risks of long-term complications from diabetes are minimized.
Diabetes is diagnosed by abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood. Since blood glucose levels normally rise after meals, a typical test will take blood samples after a period of fasting, such as before breakfast. The measured blood sugar level is compared against standardized values to check for the presence of diabetes.
Another test involves consuming a specific amount of glucose and checking blood sugar levels after a few hours. Since glucose can also bind to hemoglobin, a protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen, a more specific test measures the amount of hemoglobin bound to glucose to estimate blood sugar levels for the past three months. A primary care physician can help you choose the appropriate test and interpret the results.
Many options are also available for glucose level monitoring. A typical setup may utilize a fingerstick glucose meter, where the user pricks their finger with a sterile instrument to obtain a small amount of blood for testing. A more advanced version uses an embedded sensor that can read blood sugar levels at specified intervals. Each choice has its pros and cons, so a discussion with your primary care physician can help you determine what works best for you.
As for treatment, your primary care doctor can recommend first-line interventions based on your current condition. For example, overweight people are often advised to start a weight loss program. Returning to normal weight can improve glucose levels and reduce the need for other interventions. Adopting other healthy habits such as regular exercise and a diet low in simple carbohydrates can improve medical outcomes.
Should you need insulin injections and other medication, your primary care physician can help you look out for side effects. For example, injecting too much insulin can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. With your doctor’s help, you can recognize the first signs of hypoglycemia, so you can act fast before your condition deteriorates.
Primary Care for Diabetes Management in New York City
A primary care doctor can help you through all phases of diabetes management, from diagnosis to treatment and management. Choose a primary care provider that is responsive and has initiative for the best results.
Here at Starling Diagnostics, we are proud to offer superb primary care services. Our expert medical professionals offer comprehensive primary care at our office in the Bronx, NY, ensuring the best possible care for our patients in New York. Learn more by calling us at (718) 319-1610, or by using our online appointment form.