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October 21, 2022

Diabetes and Primary Care: Q&A with Kate Murphy, PA-C

by Kate Murphy, PA-C

Diabetes can be a challenging health journey, but your Avance Care primary care provider (PCP) is here to support you and advise you throughout the process. Primary care providers play a vital role in the discovery of diabetes and management of it. To help better explain how primary care providers play a role in the lives of those with diabetes, Kate Murphy, PA-C from Avance Care Apex answered some questions for us.

Here are answers to the top 6 questions about the role your primary care provider plays in the lives of those with diabetes:

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to process or breakdown sugars.  Patient’s with diabetes develop something called insulin resistance.  Insulin is a hormone in the pancreas that helps the body to break sugar down.  When a patient develops insulin resistance, the body will inappropriately secrete another hormone called glucagon, which further causes increased glucose levels.  Over time, these increased glucose levels can cause issues with the heart, kidneys, peripheral nerves, and small vessels.

Is there a cure for diabetes?

There is no cure for diabetes; however, diabetes can be controlled.  Often times patient’s can use lifestyle changes to help control their sugar levels.  Sometimes, we use medications (both oral and injectable) with lifestyle modifications to help control sugar levels.

How do I know if I have diabetes?

Many patients who have diabetes may not be aware they have it and are totally asymptomatic.  Some patients, however, do experience symptoms including increased urination, increased thirst or hunger, or unintentional weight changes.  Some patient’s may also experience visual changes or reoccurring yeast infections in the skin.  Certain conditions also can increase a person’s risk of getting diabetes such as obesity, hypertension, increased age, family history, history of diabetes while pregnant, and history of PCOS.  This is why regular check ups are so important, as they allow us to screen for diabetes at least once a year.

How does my primary care provider test for diabetes?

Diabetes can be diagnosed using a simple blood test.  We often screen for diabetes using a fasting sugar.  If a fasting glucose is above 126 that often indicates a patient has diabetes.  We also use a test called HBA1c which looks at the average glucose level in the blood over the past 3 months.  A person with diabetes will have a HbA1c level of 6.5% or higher.  A patient with prediabetes will have a level of 5.7-6.4%.  A normal HbA1c is under 5.6%.

How is my PCP important in living with diabetes?

As a PCP, we want our diabetic patients to have a long and healthy life.  We want to support our patient’s by providing them with tools to keep their A1c at goal and reduce any complications of having uncontrolled diabetes.  We often have our patient’s come for check ups every 3-4 months to ensure whatever measures we are using to manage their conditions are working.  We also measure the amount of stress or distress that living with diabetes is putting on our patients and refer to our therapists or dieticians to help lessen the burden.

What are some lifestyle changes I can make to prevent or manage my diabetes?

Some lifestyle changes that patient’s can make to help prevent and manage their diabetes include regular exercise, following a balanced diet (or low carb diet if already a diabetic), maintaining a healthy weight, coming to the doctor for regular check ups, and asking for help if feeling overwhelmed by their diabetes.

To check your blood sugars and find get help for managing your diabetes, schedule an appointment with your Avance Care provider today.

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