Why see a diabetes educator? Because it works

Published 10:28 am Saturday, November 27, 2010

Have you or someone close to you said, “Why do I need to go see a diabetes educator? I know what I need to do; I just don’t do it.”

Gala Kubat, Guest Column

Well, you’re not alone. So what are the benefits of seeing a diabetes educator?

A diabetes educator can help improve overall diabetes care and quality, by helping to manage day-to-day issues, problem solving, and coping, which all aid in lowering the risks of long-term complications.

According to the American Association of Diabetes Educators “Daily News” studies have proven that “ongoing diabetes education beyond the first year continues to yield multiple benefits, including fewer inpatient hospital admissions and higher compliance with diabetes medication.”

Why is it so important to control diabetes? Damage occurs to organs when blood sugars (blood glucose) are too high (hyperglycemia) over a period of time.

Especially vulnerable to this damage are the eyes, heart, kidneys and nerves. The No. 1 cause of blindness in our country is diabetes. The No. 1 cause of non-traumatic amputations is diabetes. Having diabetes and hyperglycemia will increase your risk of kidney failure — that’s failure not just disease — as much as 20 times. Neuropathy or nerve damage risk is up 30 to 40 percent greater with diabetes.

Hyperglycemia causes an increased risk of heart disease and/or stroke by two to four times higher when compared with someone with controlled blood glucose, according to the medical essay “Long Term Complications of Diabetes.”

Most of the time a person will not “feel” any different with hyperglycemia. By the time the damage is noticed it is usually too late to correct and the damage is permanent.

A key time to visit with a diabetes educator is when medication or insulin is started. We work with your doctor to determine the type of medication or insulin needed. Insurance coverage and lifestyle will play a role in each individual’s needs. For those without insurance there are generic medications and insulin available at lower costs.

Visits to a diabetes educator are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Most insurance plans also cover visits, how much would depend on individual coverage. Check with your insurance carrier.

So why come to see a diabetes educator? To the person who says, “I know what to do, I just don’t do it,” I would help identify what is blocking their road to successfully controlling diabetes.

Why come to see a diabetes educator? Well, what is important to you? Is your health a priority in your life? What are you willing to change or not change? Whatever the case, the most important thing is having control of your diabetes before your diabetes has control of you.

Kubat is a registered nurse and a certified diabetes educator at Albert Lea Medical Center. For more information call ALMC’s Patient Education department at 507-379-2046.