Medical Mutual’s Diabetes Management Program – Lark for Diabetes
Great job with all your efforts to manage diabetes. From Medical Mutual and Lark, you should be proud of all that you do! An important part of staying healthy with diabetes is keeping up with recommended health exams. The good news here is that it is easy! You don’t even have to break a sweat or make tough diet choices.
Instead, let your healthcare providers do the heavy lifting for your annual exams. Just make the appointments and let them take over! Here are the annual exams recommended by Medical Mutual, Lark and other diabetes experts.
To find a provider, either call the member services phone number on the back of your medical card, or log into PLACEHOLDER PARTNER LINK
Your kidneys filter waste from the blood, help maintain water and electrolyte balance and are necessary for strong bones. Diabetes is the most common cause of chronic kidney disease, Statistics show that two out of five people with diabetes will develop kidney disease. This is a progressive condition that can develop into kidney failure and the eventual need for dialysis. However, early detection can allow you to stop or slow the progression.
Tests are simple and should be done every year. You might get a blood test that measures how fast your kidneys filter blood. A high value means your kidneys are working well. Another test is a urine test to detect if there is protein in the urine. A low value means your kidneys are working well. This screening is formally called a “Diabetes Nephropathy Screening”.
Diabetic retinopathy can be a result of high blood sugar levels. The risk increases with the length of time a person has diabetes. A high A1C also increases the risk for eye damage. There may be no signs early on, but diabetic retinopathy can lead to blurred vision or other vision problems, and eventually blindness. However, vision loss is preventable with early detection and treatment.
Early detection, through an annual eye exam, can prevent or slow future vision damage. One option is to have drops in your eyes to dilate the pupils so the doctor can see them. This can take 2 to 3 hours and is painless, but leaves you sensitive to light and needing sunglasses to get home. Another option is for the doctor to use a special camera to take pictures of your eye to check for problems.
Diabetes affects oral health and increases risk for conditions such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Along with keeping A1C to target levels, you can support oral health by brushing twice daily and flossing each day.
Cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist twice a year, and seeing a periodontist, or gum specialist, once a year, can help prevent oral health problems or detect and treat them early. Be sure to tell your dentist or periodontist that you have diabetes and what medications you are taking.
Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage. Both of these may cause you to lose feeling in your feet, and as a result you may not notice when you have a sore or wound. Poor circulation also prevents wounds from healing, which can cause slower-healing wounds as well as reduced ability to feel them, especially in the feet. An undetected sore can lead to infection and ultimately the need for amputation, but prevention and early detection can keep feet healthy.
A diabetic foot exam should occur annually. In the exam, the doctor may check your sensation, circulation, and will examine your feet for bunions, calluses, wounds, ulcers, and blisters.
A doctor or podiatrist (foot doctor) may suggest special shoes, shoe inserts, or stockings to promote circulation and provide more support.
A1C is a measure of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. You and your doctor should set your personalized target A1C and talk about strategies for achieving it, such as taking medications and making lifestyle changes. In general, a lower A1C decreases your risk of developing diabetes complications.
Lark suggests getting an A1C test every 3 months. It is a simple blood test that does not require you to fast beforehand. If your A1C is higher than the target you and your doctor have set, your doctor may recommend more intensive lifestyle changes, such as a stricter diet and more physical activity, changing your medication dosage, and/or adding or changing medications.
Stay as healthy as possible and let your healthcare team do their part in helping you to manage your diabetes. These simple tests can keep you healthy, so make your appointments as soon as you are due for them!