For Your Health

Diabetes, The Plague of Our Bahama Islands Part IBack to Articles

Bahamians need to take charge of their health. Gone are the days when health maintenance seemed to be the job of the doctor or
other health professionals. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are rampant in this country. Many of us are walking time bombs, for many do not know that they are suffering from one or more of these problems. Each Bahamian should esteem it extremely important to routinely check his blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. It is very important to know the normal blood reading of each of these so that one could intelligently participate in health maintenance. Bahamians need to ask questions when visiting the doctor or other health professionals. You have a right to know about your health!

Today one can purchase a personal user friendly blood pressure cuff and learn how to daily monitor the blood pressure. Your blood pressure is normal if it does not exceed 140/90. This is especially useful for those who are hypertensive. Listen up for announcements of free public cholesterol screening and make sure you have yourself checked at least twice each year. A normal blood cholesterol reading should be under 200. Diabetics should own a glucometer in order to monitor their blood sugar.

Ordinarily, regardless of the time of day, a person without diabetes, with well functioning pancreas, who is not ill; automatically have blood sugar levels between 70-120 mg/dl. As a diabetic you have to work to do what your body once did automatically. Your doctor, diabetes educator, and dietitian can help you set your goals in order to get your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. Studies have shown that diabetics who maintain acceptable blood glucose ranges most of the time have greatly reduced or prevented major complications of diabetes. For good control, a diabetic should not have a blood sugar reading above 150 mg/dl two hours after meals. This does not apply to gestational diabetics. Their maximum reading should be much lower than 150 mg/dl.

Good diabetes management means good self-monitoring. Before 1979, urine testing was the most common way to determine blood
sugar fluctuations. However, urine testing gave only an idea of what the blood sugar might be. It was merely a warning sign that if heeded could possibly keep a person out of the hospital, but a warning that came too late in order to make prompt decisions concerning diabetes management. The blood sugar increases in the blood before the sugar spills in the urine. Before the sugar spills in the urine it is already high enough to cause damage putting you at risk for the complications of diabetes. Testing for urine glucose (sugar) is no longer an option for proper management of diabetes.

Today for good management of diabetes there is a wide variety of meters (glucometers) for testing blood sugar. They can be purchased at major drug stores or medical supply stores. You can monitor your own blood sugar level by using a simple finger sticking device that comes with your meter. The correct use of a finger-sticking device makes obtaining your blood sample virtually painless. Your doctor, dietitian or diabetic educator can help you. Your meter helps you to know when your blood sugar level is out of range two hours after a meal or helps you detect when it’s too low. Knowing the fluctuations in your blood sugar enables your doctor; diabetic educator and dietitian to better help you managed your diabetes and avoid any complications it can bring.

In the Bahamas the number of amputations that are related to unmanaged diabetes continue to rise. The consequences of improper
foot care can be devastating for the unmanaged diabetic. Vascular problems and neuropathy (disease of the nerve) may lead to pain, suffering, and wounds that may take weeks or even months to heal. These problems all too often lead to infection, gangrene and ultimately amputation. Diabetics, due to disease of the nerve, tend to lose some of their feeling in their feet. Because of this they may not feel a sharp object piercing the bottom of the foot or feel pain when a foot becomes infected. This is why diabetics should daily check their feet for possible wounds and avoid walking barefoot.

Prevention and proper management are the only ways to go if we’re going to combat the plague of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Seek help today if you are suffering from any of these. Ask your doctor to refer you or refer yourself to a dietitian, certified diabetes educator, or nutritionist for aid in management. It may add years to your life and life to your years.

Words of wisdom for a healthier you from your dietitian!

Idamae Hanna M.P.H.,R.D.
Send your letters to:

Better Living Health Center
P.O. Box N-7416 Nassau Bahamas
Call me at: 323-5473