As appears in: Montclair Local
Editor’s note: This series will be written by practitioners from Summit Medical Group on health-related topics. This month’s author is endocrinologist Dr. Alessia Roehnelt. She has specialized training in neck ultrasound aspirations and is an accomplished researcher in the field of Cushing’s disease. She enjoys cooking, staying active, and spending time with her family.
It is an exciting time in the field of diabetes. For years, the mainstays of treatment have been relatively the same. However more recently, new medications and glucose monitoring devices have been developed that are allowing us to tailor treatments to each individual.
My patients with diabetes often have additional medical conditions such as high blood pressure or being overweight. Rather than addressing just their high blood sugar with diabetic medications, we now have the means to tackle multiple medical problems at once. For example, some newer medications not only help lower blood sugar, but can help promote weight loss as well. There are medications now used to treat diabetes which can also reduce the risk of heart attack or even protect the kidneys in certain patients. It is important to discuss with your doctor which medical conditions you have and find out which diabetes medications might benefit you the most.
In addition to advances in medical treatment for diabetes, the way we monitor glucose levels is changing dramatically. Continuous glucose monitoring systems are now widely available that have in some cases eliminated the need to prick your finger. One device allows you to wear a sensor on your arm for up to two weeks, and using a device smaller than a cell phone, scan your arm anytime you want to know your blood sugar. This is especially useful for my patients who have difficulty pricking their fingers, or who may not have the ability to check their blood sugar while at work. I have several patients who are teachers, and they just do not have the time during the day to get out all the supplies needed to prick their finger. Using this continuous glucose monitor, they can discretely scan at any time.
Continuous glucose monitoring systems can be tremendously useful. My patients are now checking their blood sugar much more often, and finally seeing the dramatic effect certain foods can have on their glucose. One of my patients told me that he realized after he eats a piece of bread, his glucose shoots through the roof, but eating a piece of cheese will keep it stable. Because of this, he completely changed the way he was eating, and his diabetes has significantly improved!
The management of diabetes is advancing quickly. I encourage patients to follow up with their doctor to see which kind of medications or monitoring systems might be available and effective for them. Together, we can come up with an individualized treatment plan that fits the patient and their health goals.