Medical Mutual’s Diabetes Management Program – Lark for Diabetes
Great job with all your efforts to manage your diabetes, prevent complications and optimize quality of life. You should be proud of all that you do. An important part of staying healthy with diabetes is to keep up with recommended health exams.
Your healthcare provider can help you stay on top of the yearly tests you need to stay healthy with diabetes. To find a provider, either call the Customer Care phone number on your ID card or go to ProviderSearch.MedMutual.com to search for a network provider.
Here are the annual exams recommended by Lark and other diabetes experts.
Your kidneys filter waste from the blood, help maintain water and electrolyte balance, and are necessary for strong bones. Diabetes can cause kidney disease from high levels of blood sugar. Changes or damage to your kidneys may not cause you to feel ill but these changes can cause your kidneys to fail. Early detection can allow you to stop or slow the progression of kidney damage. Having kidney disease increases your risk of having heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney problems, including keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control.
Make sure to get your kidneys checked every year. You will need 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.
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious condition where changes occur within the eye that can be caused by high blood sugar levels, poor blood sugar control, or a high HgA1C. The risk increases with the length of time a person has diabetes. You may not notice there is a problem early on, but diabetic retinopathy can lead to blurred vision or other vision problems, and eventually blindness. Vision loss is preventable with early detection and treatment.
A yearly retinal eye exam can detect a problem and help you get treatment that can prevent or slow future vision damage. Your doctor will help you schedule this important yearly test.
People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, tooth decay and gum disease. Along with keeping your A1C within target levels, you can improve your oral health by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing regularly and not smoking.
Visit a dentist for a routine checkup at least twice a year and work with your dentist to create a plan to prevent or detect oral health problems and treat them early. Tell your dentist or periodontist that you have diabetes and what medications you are taking, and ask to have your exam results shared with your doctor.
Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage that can cause you to lose feeling in your feet. As a result, you may not notice any pain when you have a sore or wound. Poor circulation may also prevent wounds from healing well. A wound or sore that goes unnoticed or doesn’t heal well can lead to a serious infection that will require treatment to prevent it from spreading.
It is important that you examine your feet every day to prevent or detect any foot problems early. Avoid walking barefoot and make sure you have proper-fitting shoes to help prevent injuries to your feet. Report any problems with your feet to your doctor right away.
Your doctor will perform a diabetic foot exam at least annually. In the exam, the doctor may check your sensation and 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.
Glycated hemoglobin, or HgA1C, is a measure of your average blood glucose (sugar) levels over the past three months. You and your doctor should set your personalized target A1C and talk about strategies for reaching your goal. Taking medications and making lifestyle changes that include meal planning and activity are important steps. In general, a lower A1C reduces your risk of developing diabetes complications.
Lark suggests getting an A1C test every 3 to 6 months based on the treatment plan recommended by your provider. 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. Your doctor may also consider changing your medication dosage or adding or changing your medications.
Stay as healthy as possible and let your healthcare team be your partner in helping you manage your diabetes. These tests and screenings can keep you healthy, so make your appointments as soon as you are due for them.