When You Can Expect to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Lala Jackson

We now have two FDA-approved and safe COVID-19 vaccines in the US! So as a person with type 1 diabetes, you may be wondering when you can get yours.

The answer? Unclear. It’s all a bit of a logistical mess right now, but here’s what we do know – when you are able to receive your COVID-19 vaccine is dependent on your age, your specific health history (not necessarily whether or not you can check the ‘type 1 diabetes’ box on a form), the state and county in which you live, your employment type, and your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Overall, having type 1 diabetes does not seem to put anyone more at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus, but other factors like older age, high-exposure employment, consistently elevated blood glucose levels, or other non-diabetes related health factors like obesity and hypertension may increase your risk of infection.

However, we also know that diabetes care itself is made far more complicated after contracting COVID-19 and protecting anyone with diabetes from COVID-19 is our ultimate goal. That’s why Beyond Type 1 has signed onto calls to action urging equal prioritization and is working closely with JDRF, the ADA, and other diabetes patient organizations to advocate for all people with diabetes to be included in Phase 1c of the CDC’s immunization recommendations.

Additionally, because vaccine rollout is happening on a state level, individual advocacy at a state level may be more efficient than federal action. In your community, reach out to your state representatives to let them know that people with any type of diabetes should be included in Phase 1c. Utilize JDRF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Access Toolkit for more resources.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Phased Us Rollout

In the US, the vaccine is being rolled out in phases in *most* states. Already, there are inconsistencies that make it difficult to estimate when you might get a vaccine.

Following approval of the vaccines, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices created a set of rollout guidelines they recommend for states to follow. These guidelines include phased recommendations for which groups of people should be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccines based on risk factors like older age, underlying health conditions, and lines of work that expose them to COVID-19.

Phase 1a is in process, having begun in December 2020 immediately following the approval of the COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It includes frontline healthcare providers and residents of nursing homes, where COVID-19 cases and deaths have been dramatically highest.

Phase 1b is happening in some states already, includes people over the age of 74, and expands to more frontline workers, including first responders, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, teachers, and child care workers.

Phase 1c is also happening in some states already, while still several months out others. This phase includes people over the age of 64, anyone else aged 16 or above with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19*, and all other essential workers, like those in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, construction, finance, information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety, and public health workers.

Note that Phase 1c is a BROAD group of people, and this is where things get a bit fuzzy. It is up to each state to control rollout. Many states are following the CDC’s recommendations quite closely, some are following them but not precisely (grouping some phases together, accelerating others), and some have created their own systems, often down to a county-by-county basis.

*What Does This Mean for People With Diabetes?

For people living with diabetes who are not otherwise prioritized because of age or employment type, Phase 1c is the one to look at carefully. As defined by the CDC, people aged 16 or over with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19 are included in this phase. But what medical conditions are included?

Short answer – it’s in flux and it depends entirely on your state. Important to remember is that the CDC’s recommendations are just that – recommendations. They have very purposely created guidelines to inform rollout based on most recently available data on high-risk medical conditions, but their guidelines are not meant to be absolute law.

Currently included in Phase 1c recommendations are people with the following conditions: cancer, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, COPD, Down Syndrome, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, or Type 2 diabetes.

This means that for those with type 1 or any type of diabetes other than Type 2, you are possibly, depending on your state, not included in the initial rollout and may need to wait to receive your vaccine with the general population, which is likely to be in April 2021 or later.

But don’t panic – as we’ll explain further below, you may still be able to receive the vaccine earlier, based on state or based on your specific health history.

Type 1 Diabetes + COVID-19

Type 1 diabetes itself is not likely to make you more at risk of catching coronavirus. While some have pointed toward the callout of people with immunocompromised systems being in Phase 1c, it is important to remember that having an autoimmune disease (where the immune system attacks itself) is not the same thing as being immunocompromised (where the immune system is susceptible to outside illnesses).

However, other factors associated with T1D may increase your risk of more intense symptoms and severe complications, and if you have to get hospitalized for COVID-19, diabetes care becomes dicey.

This is a piece that has been very confusing and not communicated as clearly as it could be throughout the pandemic – the factors that make a person with any type of diabetes most at risk catching coronavirus and for experiencing severe symptoms and complications of COVID-19 are systemic racism (like being denied or not believed when care is needed), healthcare access issues (like not being able to see a doctor for non-COVID care when needed, or not being able to afford medications and supplies because of job or healthcare loss), consistently elevated blood glucose levels, recent diabetes ketoacidosisjobs that increase exposure to COVID-19, etc.

Type 1 diabetes combined with these factors does create elevated risk. But well-controlled type 1 diabetes on its own does not seem to make someone more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

A few studies have raised concerns that outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes who get COVID-19 are far more severe than a person without diabetes, but digging into those studies provides clarity on what’s actually being shown.

  • In May 2020, the UK’s health system released numbers showing severe hospitalization and death rates for people with diabetes. It sounded scary, but what it did not clarify was that additional risk factors like heart disease were of great impact to outcomes, and that the study actually showed that people with type 1 diabetes and no other underlying risk factors like older age or other health history actually did quite well – they were not frequently hospitalized for COVID-19 and those who were had low frequencies of severe outcomes.
  • In December 2020, a similar study was released in Diabetes Care, with a headline saying that COVID-19 severity is tripled in the diabetes community. But again, what it did not immediately clarify was how much the severity was dependent on additional factors, like race (due to long-standing systemic racism), elevated HbA1c, hypertension, lack of diabetes technology, lack of health insurance, less diabetes technology use, etc.

Another study that shows these risk factors well was published in July 2020, outlining the fact that older age and other health-related risk factors were more impactful on severe outcomes than diabetes itself, particularly type 1 diabetes.

Overall, yes – anyone living with diabetes of any type needs to pay careful attention to their health amidst this pandemic. The safest thing anyone can do is practice safety measures to avoid getting COVID-19. For those who cannot – essential workers or people who otherwise have to be exposed to the virus – or those with other underlying health factors, those are the most important factors that must be taken into consideration for priority vaccination.

But just having type 1 diabetes alone, if you are otherwise healthy and not significantly exposed to the virus, should not give you reason to panic. Perhaps more important is ensuring everyone in the general public gets vaccinated as quickly as possible so that diabetes care can be safely accessed, and so hospitals and ICUs are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in the event of emergency diabetes care needs.

How You Get Your Vaccine

Look up your state health department’s guidelines. If it is unclear or you are unsatisfied with what you’ve found, go ahead and reach out to your healthcare provider. Particularly if you have a healthcare provider like an endocrinologist who helps you take care of your diabetes, they may have some insider information on how their hospital or practice is planning to distribute the vaccine.

Remember to be kind and patient – healthcare providers are carrying an immense amount and they may not have an answer for you immediately.

Every vaccine taken decreases the risk and prevents the spread of COVID-19. While it is frustrating to watch the logistical mess, the more people who get vaccinated quickly the better, and in the meantime, continue to practice safe measures that protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19, including doing your best to keep tight control of your blood sugar levels, wearing a mask and physical distancing from anyone outside of your household, and avoiding indoor gatherings.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Toddler Changes His Own Dexcom on TikTok: Advice From His Mom

TikTok has become more than just a place to dance along to the latest trend; it has become a platform for advocacy for many issues, and diabetes has received increased exposure thanks to this social media app. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a TikTok of a very young boy putting on his own Dexcom G6! And he did it with confidence, bravery, and pride. I wanted to share Daxon’s story in the hopes that it inspires others as well. I reached out to his mom who was gladly happy to chat.

Hi Cassie, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I would love for our community to get to know Daxon a little better! He is such a great role model for other children living with type 1 diabetes (T1D)!

At what age was Daxon diagnosed and what were the symptoms?

Daxon was diagnosed exactly 1 month from his second birthday at 23 months old.

He started to get a bad temper spring of 2019 and we never understood why. He would get so upset so easily and we just thought it was because of terrible twos. In July, he threw up twice one morning for no reason and out of the blue. He started throwing up at nighttime multiple nights in a row and only at night. I took him to his pediatrician, and they told me “it’s probably the stomach bug, it’ll pass” but I told him “but randomly like that? It doesn’t make sense”.

After about two weeks, it stopped until August. He threw up one more time in the morning and then stopped. Once again, we had no idea why. At the end of August he started drinking and peeing excessively. What really gave it away was that he was drenched from head to toe in pee after a 2-hour nap period one day and that was it. I checked his sugar and it was 461 mg/dL (borderline DKA).

How did you as a family adapt to your new normal?

Honestly, we are still trying to adapt. We take it day by day because it is always changing. The one thing about diabetes is that no matter what, it is different each day. Even if you do the same exact thing, sugars will change.

Did you change Daxon’s and/or your family’s diet at all? What are his favorite go-to foods that don’t wreak havoc on his blood sugars? I’m sure lots of moms could use some tips!

I did not completely change his diet, but I do swap stuff out for healthier carbs and a lower glycemic index. He does low-carb bread, cheese, and crackers instead of mac-n-cheese, Go-Gurts, Two Good yogurts instead of the higher-carb ones, chicken meatballs instead of chicken nuggets, Fairlife milk instead of others  (because of his milk allergy, but it is better carb-wise also), keto-friendly cereal because others spike so much that I cannot get it down for hours, keto-friendly bread only because the GI level is so much better. There are some other changes, but the family has not changed any really. He does still eat candy, it is just more in moderation than before.

His go-to foods are pork rinds eggs, a brownie bar called “Good to Go”, keto-friendly ice cream, yellow bell peppers, broccoli, really any vegetable, cheese sticks, pepperoni, lollipop suckers. Any time we are out Chik-fil-A, grilled chicken and fruit are a must. That is all I can think of right now.

Photo credit: Cassie Daniels

At what point did you start using the Omnipod and Dexcom G6? How did Daxon handle that? 

The Dexcom was a month after being diagnosed and he did not handle it well at first. We would have to hold him down to get him to let me put it on. It was a nightmare but once he watched a friend of ours put her’s on and she told him “you have a robot just like me” he got used to it and now it is normal. When his phone tells us it’s time to change it, he’ll tell me “robot needs changed” and he will 100% do it solo now which is amazing.

The Omnipod was a little different. His first endo wouldn’t approve it because they thought he would take it off, so we had to wait but once we switched to a different hospital, they got him on it right away; so, he was about 7 months in when he was able to get the pod. At first, once again — NOT a fan and it was horrible — but once he learned it meant “no more shots” he was perfectly fine with it (sometimes). We will scream — and I mean scream  — the song “Baby Shark” so he will not hear the clicking for the needle and that seems to help also. He is currently working on putting the insulin in his pod so he is super excited about that.

I know I personally prefer shots, but am often intrigued by the control some pumpers get. Do you find using the pump helps make blood sugar management easier?

The pump for us personally is a lot better for different reasons. Omnipod allows such a small dose, so even 1 gram of carbs he would get some insulin, but with shots, we would have to round up or down, which meant [more fluctuations for him]. Also, in the middle of the night, being able to give him insulin without even touching him has been great. I hated waking him up to poke him with a needle. Also, when on the go we can dose from the front seat of the car. However, if he ever decides that he wants to stop the pump and go back to shots I will support him and what he wants 100%.

@cdaniels2015

95% completely solo 💙💙💙💙 He’s get the hang of this soooo quickly 😭🙏💙 #typeonediabadass #BigBoy

♬ Bang! – AJR

I couldn’t believe my eyes when my diabestie, Hillary Emmons,  sent me this TikTok of Daxon changing his own Dexcom! I am so impressed and inspired! At what point did he express interest in doing that?

After about six months of being a type 1, he has always been curious about everything. He has been checking his own sugar with the meter since about 6 months in when needed to be checked. And recently he was really showing interest in the Dexcom and doing it solo. He did half of it one day and then the next change he did it completely on his own, all I did was hold it and help place it. I never asked him to do it because I didn’t think he was ready for that task yet but that day he told me “I do it” and that was it. Now he is showing interest in some of the Omnipod stuff, which is amazing because he feels in control.

I give you credit as a parent for letting him own his management and giving him the confidence to know he can manage his disease! What would you like to tell other parents about how to get children to want to be a part of their daily care?

Make it positive, make it fun, and make it normal. We have the JDRF bear and we practiced on that since being diagnosed. At first, we used it so he could understand more of it. We also got his big brother and all the other family members involved since day one. We check everyone’s sugars, so it is normal for everyone. All the children in our family (our boys and our 3 nieces) have been very curious about it since day one.

I see you are using TikTok as a platform for awareness and this one video alone got over 103,000 likes! Kudos! What would you like people to take away from your videos?

I want people to know the signs of T1D and to normalize it. I hate when I see people hide that they check their sugar or even giving their self insulin. I want to help parents have a voice for their children because doctors sometimes do not listen, and we need to be loud for our children and to follow their gut. I have a lot of people say that he encouraged their children to try putting the Dexcom on solo and I love that it is helping other children also. One of my TikToks potentially saved a child from dying. Her sugar was almost 1000 mg/dL and she was in DKA and doctors were surprised she wasn’t in a coma. Children should not die for people [not being able] to figure out what is wrong!

Does Daxon enjoy making the TikTok videos? I think “injecting” some humor and fun is the best medicine of all! And one you can all do together as a family!

Daxon loves showing people his stuff. He knows it makes him unique and he loves seeing others who are like him. So, when people duet his videos and they show their Dex or pod it’s helpful for him also to see that there are others like him.

Photo credit: Cassie Daniels

What else does Daxon like to do with his free time when he’s not managing his diabetes and TikTok’ing?

Daxon is a typical boy and I mean ALL boy. He rough houses with his brother, loves to color, help with dishes, cooking, loves to read books, play outside, ride his 4-wheeler, and absolutely loves cuddling with me. I think him being a T1D made our bond even stronger.

How does Daxon feel about being a TikTok sensation and knowing that he is helping to inspire many other children just like himself!

I have told him many times that he is helping other children and I don’t think he really understands what it means yet, but he always smiles and says “they have a robot like me” or he’ll go “yay that makes me happy”. I ask him “do you want to make a video?” and normally he’ll tell me “yessss let’s make a video”. I will never make him make TikToks so if he tells me no then I’ll leave it alone.

I ask this in every interview! Do you think they’ll be a cure in Daxon’s lifetime?

100% honestly I do not foresee a cure ever. They make way too much money from insulin (when it should be free, but that’s another story for another time). I wish there would be a cure, but I don’t see it happening.

Daxon

Photo credit: Cassie Daniels

What advice helped you? Can you pass it along to parents of newly diagnosed children?

My advice for parents is:

  1. Take one day at a time because it is an always-changing, never-stopping, headache of a disease.
  2. Do your best and never get down on your child for their blood sugars. That is the one thing I will never do to Daxon, anytime he has “bad” sugars, I never express it to him or show it on my face because it is not his fault, so I don’t want him to feel like he is failing.
  3. Always tell your child they can still do anything they like and never change activities. Just change foods to help [manage sugars during] the activities. For example, we took Daxon and his brother to a trampoline park and I knew his sugar was going to drop. He started at 170 mg/dL and dropped to 50 mg/dL. I was prepared with milk, yogurt, chocolate, and others, so he could still have fun and be a kid.
  4. Try not to have a fight if sugars are not in range, because everything is magnified if high or low. So what I do with Daxon if he is high or low and has a temper tantrum, I ignore it and let him do what he needs to do. Once he calms down, we discuss what happened and I explain I understand he doesn’t feel good but he doesn’t need to act that way.
  5. Treat them like you would any other child because diabetes does NOT define them.

Where do you see going with your advocacy and awareness on social media or elsewhere? Do you have other plans in the future?

I would love to bring more awareness to this disease. I would love for there to be a law that pediatricians must check A1c every year or every other year. They check your iron, and they check lead so why not diabetes? [Some] pediatricians think that younger children cannot get diabetes until at least six years old which is not true. It is ridiculous because a child’s death is avoidable if people were more aware of the signs and doctors tested when they should.

Thanks again Cassie, we really appreciate you taking the time! I look forward to continuing to follow Daxon’s journey and see how many kids he inspires along the way!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Metformin May Reduce Your Risk of Death from COVID-19 Infection

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler

The use of metformin – the most common initial medication for people with type 2 diabetes – was associated with a lower rate of mortality from COVID-19 among people with diabetes in a study in Alabama, confirming five previous studies.

Do you take metformin? It’s the first-line therapy used to lower glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. A recent study found that metformin use was associated with a lower rate of COVID-related death among people with type 2 diabetes. Since people with diabetes are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, the relationship between metformin and COVID outcomes in this report may be of interest to many people around the world who take the medication.

Want more information like this?

The study looked at the electronic health data from 25,326 people tested for COVID at Birmingham Hospital in Alabama, including healthcare workers, between February and June of 2020. Of those tested, 604 people were positive for COVID-19 – and 239 of those who were positive had diabetes. These results showed that the odds of testing positive for COVID were significantly higher for people, particularly Black people, with certain pre-existing conditions, including diabetes. This does not mean people with diabetes are more likely to get COVID-19, only that people with diabetes were more likely to test positive at this hospital.

Importantly, the study found an association between metformin use and risk of death – the study reported that people who were on metformin before being diagnosed with COVID-19 had a significantly lower chance of dying:

  • People taking metformin had an 11% mortality (or death) rate, compared to 24% for those with type 2 diabetes not on metformin when admitted to the hospital.
  • This benefit of metformin remained even when people with type 2 diabetes and kidney disease or chronic heart failure were excluded from the calculations. This is important because people with kidney or heart disease are often advised against taking metformin. By removing this population, it helps to support the notion that metformin may be involved in this difference.
  • Body weight and A1C were not associated with mortality among people with diabetes taking metformin. This suggests that the association of metformin use with reduced COVID-related deaths was not due to the effects of the medication on weight or glucose management.

The data suggest that being a person with diabetes who takes metformin may provide some level of protection against severe COVID-19 infection among people with diabetes. Other studies have shown similar results, though it is not known whether metformin may itself reduce COVID-related deaths among people with type 2 diabetes. The authors discussed some previously reported effects of metformin beyond lowering glucose levels, such as reducing high levels of inflammation (the body’s natural way of fighting infection), which has been described as a risk factor in severe COVID infection. Severe infection with COVID-19, resulting in hospital admission, can lead to damage to the kidneys and decreased oxygen supply to the body’s tissues – and in these circumstances, serious side effects of metformin can occur.

“Given that COVID leads to higher mortality rates and more complicated hospital courses in people with diabetes, it is important to consider whether specific diabetes medications can provide some relative degree of protection against poor COVID outcomes,” said Dr. Tim Garvey, an endocrinologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This study adds to growing evidence that people with type 2 diabetes treated with metformin have better outcomes than those not receiving metformin.”

Dr. Garvey also cautioned: “Of course, these case-control studies show associations and do not rise to the level of evidence that might be found by a randomized clinical trial. For example, people with diabetes not treated with the first-line drug, metformin, may have a larger number of diabetes complications or longer duration of disease compared with people not on metformin – which could explain the more severe outcomes. In any event, we advocate for early administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other protective measures for people with diabetes.”

Professor Philip Home, a professor of diabetes medicine at Newcastle University in the UK, agreed, saying, “Multiple studies have now addressed the issue of whether metformin and insulin use are associated with better or worse outcomes in people with diabetes who contract COVID-19. In line with previous literature on other diseases, it was expected that people on metformin would do better, and people on insulin worse, than people with diabetes not using these medications. This is confirmed.”

Home continued: “It is believed to happen because people using metformin are younger and have better kidney function than those not taking the medication, while those on insulin tend to have other medical conditions. The good news is that if you have type 2 diabetes and are taking metformin, you are likely to be fitter than if you have type 2 diabetes and do not take the medication – but there is no evidence that metformin itself will make a difference to your outcome if you do get COVID-19. So, get vaccinated as soon as possible!”

To learn more about metformin, read “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Metformin, But Were Afraid to Ask.”

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Easy At-Home Gym Hacks

We are nearly a year into the pandemic, which has all but frozen life as we used to know it. It has required a shift in thinking, and a transition to doing most everything at home: work, school, and even exercise. Most gyms across the country are either still closed or operating at extremely limited capacity, and many people feel more comfortable working out from the comfort of their own homes until herd immunity is achieved in the United States.

But how can you get a good, full-body workout at home, when time, space, and equipment is limited? These are our top tips.

Keep a Routine

The best workout is the one you’ll do consistently, and that means making your exercise time routine. It should be no different than when you would typically go to a physical gym: exercise should happen during the same time and in the same place every day.

This also helps create boundaries with work and family. If you go to the garage every morning at 6 a.m. for dedicated “gym” time, the kids will soon learn that you’re not available to play then. Alternatively, if you block out 20 minutes at noon every day for a run on your Outlook calendar, your boss is much less likely to schedule impromptu meetings during that time.

Also, it’s important to know yourself. If you’re a morning person and start to fade around dinnertime, don’t wait to get your exercise in after the kids go to sleep. By prioritizing your exercise time and making it routine, you’re guaranteed to make it a habit that will stick.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Adjusting to home workouts does not need to be complicated. You can start small with Youtube yoga and dance videos, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, and even meditation to deal with stress. Listening to Spotify or Pandora while working out can help bring fresh music to your routine, too.

Accumulating some at-home gym equipment can also keep you stimulated and less likely to become bored.

Michelle, from Madison, Wisconsin, says that she uses the Nike training app religiously, as it helps prevent ennui and always mixes up workouts. The app comes with multi-week programs, including a prescribed series of workouts, nutrition tips, and wellness guidance to help users build healthy habits. Each flexible program is led by a Nike Master Trainer and is created to cater to those working out at home.

Additionally, Michelle recommends Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, which replace 15 sets of weights! The weights adjust from 5 up to 52.5 lbs each. By easily turning the dial you can change the resistance, enabling you to gradually increase your strength.

Ryan, from Albany, New York, uses the Bowflex C6 bike in combination with the Peloton app (which is just $15 per month!). The bike has 100 levels of resistance, just like the Peloton bike, but is half the cost, so you can follow along to Peloton workouts while saving a ton of money.

If you’re not into collecting a ton of equipment but want to build strength and get your heart rate up, simply investing in a kettlebell and a jump rope can be all you need to take squats and lunges to the next level.

If you don’t want to buy all new equipment for your home, see if you can crowdsource some from friends and family. Pool resources together, and share weights, a rack, a bicycle, treadmill, or other equipment, to make assembling an at-home gym more affordable.

Jennifer, from Des Moines, Iowa, says, “My sister lives across town and has a great treadmill in her garage. She works the night shift and I work during the day, so will pop on over to her house to get a run in on cold mornings while she’s still at work. It works perfectly.”

Some people have even had luck renting equipment or even borrowing equipment from their gyms while they are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Jessica, from Boulder, Colorado, says. “I emailed my local rec center, and they’ve let me borrow some heavier kettlebells that would have been prohibitively expensive to buy. They let members borrow equipment for 72 hours, which works perfectly to spice up my workout routines.”

exercise accountability buddy

Photo credit: iStock

Find an Accountability Buddy

No one is inspired to exercise all the time. Having a friend or family member checking in with you to make sure you’re meeting your fitness goals can be a crucial nudge to help you stick to your routine. Perhaps you have a weekly check-in call with a friend every Friday to review what you did to get your heart pumping, or you email different workout plans to each other every week to stay motivated.

If you feel safe enough to do so, maybe you meet someone for a walk each weekend, to get fresh air and a change of scenery. Whatever you do, it should help you stay motivated, not hinder your progress.

Even if your accountability buddy isn’t actively trying to improve their fitness or lose weight, they could benefit too: a recent study showed that when 130 couples were tracked over six months, the accountability buddy not actively trying to lose weight had success in some weight loss too, if their partner was on an exercise plan.

Make It Fun!

In this strange time, it’s important to make exercise fun. Have goals and work hard to meet them, but make sure to celebrate your progress, too. Maybe you’re trying to deadlift 150 lbs, lower your HbA1c, do twenty weighted lunges in a row, or run a faster mile.

If and when you meet those goals, celebrate them! This may look different in 2021, but ordering takeaway coffee from a favorite coffee shop, ordering your favorite candle online, or buying a new swimsuit are all well-deserved awards for hard work put in at home.

Working out at home does not need to be boring or uninspired. With these tips, you can keep your fitness levels high, stay motivated, save money, and get healthier, even during the quarantine. Remember to always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Have you been working out at home during the pandemic? How is it going for you? What strategies or advice would you give others? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Study Compares MiniMed 780G and MiniMed 670G Algorithms

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Albert Cai

A new study in adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes directly compared two automated insulin delivery algorithms. Medtronic’s newer Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop (built into the MiniMed 780G system) improved glucose management more than the MiniMed 670G, though both systems showed impressive increases in Time in Range for this population. Ultimately, the 670G gave users over an hour and a half more time in range each day, while the 780G gave wearers over two hours every day in range!

Two Medtronic automated insulin delivery algorithms, the Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop and the MiniMed 670G, were recently compared in a cross-over study, allowing 113 participants to use both algorithms. Results from the study were published in the medical journal The Lancet. Notably, the study tested this technology in adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes ­– a group for which diabetes management is notoriously challenging. View our resources for adolescents with diabetes here.

For an introduction to automated insulin delivery (AID), check out our piece on current and coming-soon AID systems in 2021.

What is the MiniMed 670G?

The MiniMed 670G is an AID system that has been available since spring 2017 – it was the first system ever to “close the loop.” The system includes the MiniMed 670G pump, the Guardian Sensor 3 continuous glucose monitor (CGM), and an automated insulin adjustment algorithm. The algorithm adjusts basal insulin delivery every five minutes based on CGM readings, and a target of 120 mg/dl.

What is Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop?

Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop (AHCL) is Medtronic’s next-generation AID algorithm. The AHCL algorithm is used in Medtronic’s MiniMed 780G system, which is currently available in at least twelve countries in Europe. While it is not yet available in the US, Medtronic hopes to launch the 780G in the US this spring. In addition to automatic basal rate adjustments, the AHCL algorithm can also deliver automatic correction boluses and has an adjustable glucose target that goes down to 100 mg/dl. This is big news because many people using closed loop do not want to target the higher 120 mg/dl, even as a safety measure. The 780G algorithm is designed to have fewer alarms and even simpler operation than the MiniMed 670G system.

What was the study?

The newly published FLAIR (Fuzzy Logic Automated Insulin Regulation) study was conducted over six months across seven diabetes centers (four in the US, two in Europe, and one in Israel). The study enrolled 113 adolescents and young adults (ages 14-29) with type 1 diabetes. The study sample is notable, because teens and young adults with type 1 diabetes have the highest average A1C levels of any age group.

At the beginning of the study, participants performed their usual diabetes management routine for two weeks to establish their baseline glucose levels. Half of the group was then randomly assigned to use the MiniMed 670G system, while the other half of the group used the same pump and CGM, but with the new AHCL algorithm. After three months – the halfway point of the study – the two groups “crossed over,” switching to the opposite technology.

What were the results?

Nearly every measure of glucose management favored the AHCL period over the MiniMed 670G:

  • Compared to baseline, participants reduced time spent above 180 mg/dl by 1.2 hours per day when using MiniMed 670G and 1.9 hours per day when using AHCL.
  • Time in Range (TIR, time between 70-180 mg/dl) improved from a baseline of 57% to 63% using Minimed 670G and to 67% using AHCL.
  • Time spent below 70 mg/dl fell 0.2% of the time. While those 28 minutes a day may not be statistically significant – and time in severe hypoglycemia, or below 54 mg/dl, did not increase from baseline when using either algorithm – many people with diabetes would benefit from that additional half hour in range.

The graph below shows the time spent in glucose ranges during baseline, MiniMed 670G, and AHCL periods. For both algorithms, the Time in Range increase from baseline was significant – use of either AID system led to at least 14 hours more each week spent in range. Nevertheless, we also point out, of course, that the group (again, the group that has the most challenges of any age group managing diabetes) still experienced a fair amount of time above 250 mg/dl. This is  another reason for healthcare professionals and people with diabetes to think about the “whole person” when considering diabetes management, and another reason why we always recommend Adam Brown’s Bright Spots and Landmines for ways to improve diabetes management in terms of food, exercise, mindset, and sleep – it includes many strategies for people, especially teens and young adults, to use each day.

AID comparison

Image source: diaTribe

  • The biggest Time in Range improvement came overnight (between midnight to 6am). During this six-hour overnight period, AHCL users spent an average of 4.4 hours in range (74% TIR), compared to 4.2 hours (70% TIR) for 670G, and 3.5 hours (58% TIR) during baseline. While the overnight Time in Range difference between AHCL and 670G may not seem large, it added up to nearly a 22-hour difference over the three-month the AHCL period.
  • With daytime numbers, the average AHCL user spent 63 more hours (about 2.6 days) in range than the average 670G user in each three-month study period.

The graph below shows daytime and nighttime differences in time spent in range (70-180 mg/dl), and the data is included in a table at the end of this article. Better sleep the night before can also make diabetes management more effective during the day.

Comparison

Image source: diaTribe

  • Using MiniMed 670G drove an average A1C improvement from 7.9% to 7.6%, while AHCL use improved A1C from 7.9% to 7.4%.

Both systems showed extremely positive results and were found to be safe for use in young people with type 1 diabetes. The AID algorithms led to dramatic increases in Time in Range in a population that stands to benefit – over the course of a year, adolescents and young adults could spend more than ten additional days in range. The direct comparison between these two AID algorithms is highly informative – we hope to see similar trials in the future.

Comparison

Image source: diaTribe

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How Race and Ethnicity Affect Diabetes Prevalence, Management, and Complications

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Julia Kenney, Matthew Garza, and Eliza Skoler

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian individuals, and people of all non-white racial and ethnic groups are more likely to have diabetes and diabetes-related health complications than their white peers. Here’s how social determinants of health lead to differences in diabetes care and outcomes, creating racial, ethnic, and economic health disparities in the United States.

According to the 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetes affects over 34 million people in the United States – that’s more than one in ten people. However, diabetes does not affect all communities equally. As with many conditions – such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, and chronic kidney disease – a person’s race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status influences both their risk for developing diabetes and their access to diabetes management resources. The health disparities that exist among the many races in the US are not attributable to genetics or biology alone, but also to socioeconomic factors and social determinants of health that disadvantage people of color.

Though genetics and biology do play important roles in diabetes prevalence and complication rates, this article will focus on the societal factors that affect the lives of people living with diabetes – such as access to healthy food, healthcare, employment, and other socioeconomic factors. We aim to specifically explore the racial health disparities that disadvantage communities of color. We will also highlight some of the factors underlying the concerning patterns in diabetes prevalence, management, and complications, and share ways to promote health and access to care for people with diabetes, regardless of race and ethnicity.

Defining Key Terms

  • Race & Ethnicity – Race is a socially constructed way to group individuals based on skin color and physical features. There is no specific set of genes that defines a race. Ethnicity is also socially constructed, and it categorizes people based on a shared sense of group membership (like language, culture, history, or geography).
  • Socioeconomic status – Socioeconomic status is a measure of a person’s economic and social standing. This term is often used interchangeably with social or economic class.
  • Health disparities – Health disparities are differences in health outcomes among various populations or communities. They are closely linked to social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that affect groups that have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health (due to factors including race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and economic status.)
  • Health equity – Health equity is the goal that every person, regardless of their background or circumstance, is able to live a healthy life with full access to quality healthcare and other health resources. Achievement of health equity requires valuing every person equally and addressing avoidable inequalities with focused, societal efforts to eliminate injustices and health disparities.
  • Social determinants of health – These are factors that influence a person’s health but fall outside the scope of a healthcare professional’s influence. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. For example, social determinants of health can include a person’s race, gender, socioeconomic status, education, and where they live and work; these factors are often longstanding and have multi-generational effects. Social determinants of health are one of the major causes of health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status.
  • Systemic racism – Also called institutional or structural racism, it is defined by systems and structures (such as medicine or the healthcare system) that have procedures or processes that disadvantage people of color.

Systemic racism lies at the center of this article. As we discuss racial health disparities and their underlying causes, keep in mind that these factors are a result of the long-standing structures that affect the lived experiences of people of color – they are not attributed to the personal decisions of individuals.

A Look at Racial Health Disparities in Diabetes

What do health disparities actually look like in the US? The data show concerning patterns: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian populations are more heavily affected by diabetes than their non-Hispanic, white counterparts, in diagnoses, management challenges, and diabetes-related complications.

The CDC’s diabetes statistics report showed alarming differences among races in the estimated percentage of adults with diabetes (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) in the US from 2013 to 2016:

  • Black, non-Hispanic: 16.4%
  • Asian, non-Hispanic: 14.9%
  • Hispanic: 14.7%
  • White, non-Hispanic: 11.9%

While these differences in rates are stark, the evidence shows that diabetes prevalence is not dependent on race from a genetic or physiological standpoint alone. For example, in this study from 2007, when researchers accounted for socioeconomic factors, the differences in rates of type 2 diabetes between racial groups were reduced. This supports the idea that socioeconomic factors that disadvantage people of color are a significant cause for these health disparities.

In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, a team of researchers from Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University found that there were differences in the quality of diabetes care between racial and ethnic groups. Using the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data, they looked at adherence to five ADA-recommended services over one year that indicate quality of diabetes care. Compared to white individuals, Hispanic, Black, and Asian individuals received fewer diabetes management checks, including A1C tests, eye exams, foot exams, blood cholesterol tests, and flu vaccines. Even in adjusted models which controlled for factors like insurance coverage, poverty, and education, some of the disparities remained. Most notably, Hispanic, Black, and Asian individuals were still less likely to receive the two recommended annual A1C checks. The researchers showed that this difference in quality of care occurred partly because populations of color had less access to health insurance and diabetes management education, compared to white populations.

Trends in care translate to trends in diabetes outcomes – including complications and death rates. A study from 2014 looked into racial and ethnic differences in diabetes complications and mortality. Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic individuals had higher rates of retinopathyend-stage kidney disease, and amputations than non-Hispanic white individuals. Furthermore, these groups were more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic white Americans:

  • Indigenous populations were 3 times more likely to die from diabetes
  • Non-Hispanic Black Americans were 2.3 times more likely to die from diabetes
  • Hispanic Americans were 1.5 times more likely to die from diabetes

Just as with the risk of diabetes, people of color are not genetically predisposed to diabetes-related complications due to race alone. A combination of social and environmental factors plays into a person’s ability to successfully manage their diabetes.

How Genetics and Biology Are Involved

Racial and ethnic categories are not as closely associated with genetics and biology as some people think. In fact, categories such as white, Black, Asian, and Hispanic are defined more by society than by any set of specific genes. However, to fully address the factors that affect diabetes prevalence and outcomes, we must understand the role of genetics and biology. Studies have shown that there are biological differences among races that correspond to how a person metabolizes (or utilizes) glucose, their insulin sensitivity, and how fat is distributed in the body – however, a person’s family history of diabetes is more telling of their genetic risk for that condition than the color of their skin. The research on how genetics, biology, and race all intersect and interact to influence diabetes is complex; there is still much to determine.

As discussed, genetics alone do not explain diabetes-related health disparities among the races. Furthermore, we cannot reduce the large health disparities by focusing solely on biological factors, which are largely predetermined; we must instead focus on the socioeconomic factors and social determinants of health that exacerbate racial disparities, which are in large part founded in longstanding systemic racism. Below we describe some of the many elements of systemic racism that affect a person’s ability to manage their diabetes and receive quality diabetes healthcare.

Main Causes of Racial Health Disparities in Diabetes Prevalence

The factors we discuss here are influenced by systemic racism that is built into the social, economic, and political fabric of the United States. The systemic racism that people of color experience results in things like lower wages, fewer academic and professional opportunities, and reduced community resources. With this in mind, factors like income, unemployment, health insurance, and food and exercise environments are not entirely personal choices, but can be explained by a number of external causes.

Income 

In the US, there are major racial differences in wealth. A 2018 Kaiser study offered this breakdown of people living below the federal poverty level:

  • 1 in 4 Indigenous people
  • 1 in 5 Black people
  • 1 in 5 Hispanic people
  • 1 in 10 white people

Further statistics on income and poverty levels can be found in the US Census Bureau’s 2019 report, which confirms the racial disparities in poverty rates. People living with incomes below the federal poverty level in 2018 were earning only $12,000 a year (or $25,000 for a family of four). These families – and many above the federal poverty level – often can’t afford the nutritious food, safe exercise opportunities, and healthcare needed to prevent and manage diabetes.

Unemployment and Health Insurance

People of color in America are also more likely to be unemployed. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of unemployment in 2019, broken down by race, were:

  • 6.6% of Indigenous people
  • 6.1% of Black people
  • 3.9% of Latino and/or Hispanic people
  • 3.1% of white people

These unemployment rates and racial disparities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically increased unemployment rates in the US. Though unemployment is closely tied to income, it can also influence a person’s access to health insurance, since many people receive health insurance from an employer.

Stat

Image source: diaTribe

The high cost of healthcare means those who are uninsured or underinsured often do not get the care they need, including preventive healthcare (such as annual check-ups and prediabetes screenings) and instead must rely on inconsistent care. Unfortunately, Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic people are less likely to be insured in America. According to a Kaiser study of non-elderly individuals in the US, these were the rates of uninsured people in 2018:

  • 21.8% of Indigenous people (identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • 19% of Hispanic people
  • 11.5% of Black people
  • 7.5% of white people

Food and Exercise

A healthy diet and regular exercise are known to reduce the risk and improve the outcomes of type 2 diabetes. However, Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities in the US have less access to healthy foods and experience higher rates of food insecurity than white communities. According to the USDA, more than 35 million people lived in food insecure households in the US in 2019, including:

  • 25% of Indigenous people
  • 19.1% of non-Hispanic, Black households
  • 15.6% of Hispanic households
  • 7.9% of non-Hispanic, white households

Food insecurity is most common among low-income communities, which are disproportionately occupied by people of color. Moreover, food deserts (where there is little to no access to healthy foods) and food swamps (full of unhealthy fast-food options) are located primarily in minority neighborhoods. These communities are often faced with local food options that put them at an increased risk for diabetes: more small grocery stores with limited choices, fast food restaurants, and liquor stores, and fewer supermarkets with fresh fruit and vegetable options, bakeries, and natural and whole foods.

In addition to less access to healthy and affordable food, people of color often also have less time, money, and overall access to venues for exercise. This article from the New York Times about the racially exclusive culture around jogging is an eye-opening example of the barriers to exercise that many Black people face. Even at a time when some of the world’s most elite runners are African or Black, Black runners and joggers (in America, especially) often engage in protective measures such as running only during the daytime, steering clear of certain neighborhoods, or wearing Ivy League sweatshirts to deflect any suspicions that could lead to racist attacks.

Main Causes of Racial Health Disparities in Diabetes-Related Health Complications

Barriers to healthcare (such as a lack of health insurance or insufficient income) continue after a person is diagnosed with diabetes. Without ongoing, regular diabetes care, people face higher rates of health complications. Here are some of the barriers:

  • The high cost of insulin has made the life-saving drug inaccessible to many people, including people of color who have higher rates of unemployment and little or no health insurance. An American Action Forum report showed that insulin costs a person an average of $6,000 per year and found that one in four people with diabetes report rationing their insulin because they cannot afford the cost of their full prescribed dose.
  • Despite major advances in diabetes technology that make diabetes management easier, including wider use of CGM and insulin pumps, disparities exist in who has access to these tools. Black individuals are less likely to use an insulin pump or CGM than their white counterparts – which may be due to failure of the healthcare professional to write a prescription for technology, insufficient information about diabetes technology, an inability to afford these devices, or subtle racism on the part of the established medical system.
  • Even for people who have insurance, the costs of diabetes care and a diabetes-friendly nutrition plan can be challenging for people with low incomes.

Social and racial barriers widen diabetes health disparities. There is a history of prejudice against people of color in our healthcare system: Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic individuals can have the same income, insurance, and medical condition as white people yet still receive lower quality care due to systemic racism. In 2018, fewer than 12% of practicing physicians in the United States were Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous individuals. This means that there are fewer healthcare professionals who can earn trust and identify with communities of color. For more information on racism in healthcare, check out Unequal Treatment.

The Importance of Addressing Health Inequity in Communities of Color

It is clear that the disparities in diabetes prevalence, care, and management can be explained in part by of a number of social determinants of health, many of which are influenced by systemic racism. Every person with diabetes faces health barriers. But for many, the color of their skin can make successful diabetes management even more difficult and sometimes impossible. Every person with diabetes should have access to diabetes care, medication, and technology, and to living a healthy life with diabetes.

What Can We, as a Society, Do to Reduce These Disparities?

It will take extensive, collaborative, and creative work to address these disparities. We can begin by educating ourselves and others. Some good first steps include learning about the challenges faced by people of color with diabetes, about the people working to address these issues already, and about the ways to get involved. Check out some of our other articles on these subjects:

At diaTribe, we want to acknowledge the people and the organizations at the local, state, and national levels who are already doing the work needed to effectively tackle the health inequalities that lead to higher rates of diabetes and less favorable outcomes among people of color. In addition to those whose jobs focus on addressing health disparities, there are other ways for people to be involved in promoting health equity. Here are some ideas to consider:

No matter what skills or resources you may have, determine how your expertise might be of benefit – particularly if you are in the health field where you can address systemic racism and health disparities. The more we learn about how the social determinants of health and racism in healthcare contribute to a person’s risk for diabetes and influence their diabetes management, the better prepared we’ll be to knock down barriers to quality care.

We acknowledge that every person should have the resources to manage their diabetes and, in the case of type 2 diabetes, to prevent it. All people, and especially people in positions of privilege, have a responsibility to help break down barriers to equal care for underserved communities. As people with diabetes and their allies, we have to do the work – and build upon the work already being done – to address racial health disparities and create more equitable and inclusive healthcare for people of color – in fact, for all of us.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

CGMs to “Hack” Your Blood Sugar? People with Diabetes Speak Up

It’s becoming more and more common: whether in a coffee shop in Silicon Valley or in a weightlifting gym in Boulder, Colorado, people without diabetes are using continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to “hack” their blood sugars, lose weight, and hone their diets accordingly. This article will explore the use of CGMs in the non-diabetic population, what the backlash from the diabetes community has been, and what the call to action should be.

CGMs for More Than Just Diabetes Management?

According to one website that promotes the use of CGMs in a non-diabetic population,

“ Wearing a CGM can facilitate the effort for someone who wants to hack their diet, blood sugar control, and overall health. This technology can go beyond a single blood sugar reading that a blood glucose meter provides. A CGM can provide real-time insight on whether blood sugar is trending up or down.”

What may seem like an innocuous accessory for the upper-class elite has many people with diabetes enraged. CGMs are crucial in providing regular, near-constant blood glucose readings to track time spent in range (TIR), identifying patterns in blood sugars, and anticipating both low and high levels.

The Original Purpose of a Continuous Glucose Monitor

For people with diabetes, they are life-saving, and more and more often are being coupled with insulin pumps that will then increase or suspend insulin according to the blood sugar that a CGM reads. It almost entirely eliminates the need for manual finger testing and has proven to help lower HbA1c levels, reduce dangerous low blood sugars, increase time in range, prevent unnecessary emergency room (ER) visits, and save the health care system money and save many lives. It has quickly become a necessity for tight diabetes management in recent years for many people.

For something so seemingly necessary for most people with diabetes, it clearly isn’t seen that way by industry: 16 states, including California (the most populous), do not have Medicaid coverage for continuous glucose monitors at all. And while most private health insurance plans (and even Medicare) now cover CGMs, affording one without health insurance is nearly impossible: the most popular CGM and the one that most commonly connects with insulin pumps, the Dexcom CGM, costs thousands of dollars out of pocket per month without insurance.

So when someone with diabetes, who is already struggling to afford their insulin, goes to the local coffee shop and overhears two dudes from Crossfit comparing their (perfect) blood sugar readings on their respective CGMs over their non-fat decaf lattes, the inequity of the situation can be enough to make your skin crawl.

Clair from Illinois says,

“The general population using CGM devices trivializes them.”

Cate from Nebraska adds,

“It absolutely incenses me [when non-diabetics use CGMs]. There’s a local doctor in my area who treats patients for weight loss and gives everyone a free CGM; meanwhile, it’s an arm and a leg to refill my own.”

Bonnie from Minneapolis says,

“It drives me absolutely bananas.”

We Are All Just Products of the System

Managing diabetes with a continuous glucose monitor is life-changing, but it is expensive, and living with diabetes in America is anything but easy. We have the most expensive insulin prices in the world, health insurance isn’t compulsory or cheap, and even when you do have a job that has health insurance, necessary diabetes technology is sometimes not even covered or affordable under your plan.

Seeing people use technology that we need can be seen as a slap in the face, but we’re directing our anger at the wrong place. The problem with accessibility in the United States is not a supply issue. The problem with accessibility in the United States is that we use health care as a commodity when it is not. We put health care into a capitalist box when it’s something that should be treated as the human right it is. We’ve priced people out of their lives. We treat things like insulin and insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors as if they’re elastic goods when they’re 100% inelastic. We cannot negotiate our own pricing for insulin. We can’t haggle down the price or walk away. We need the drug or we die.

People without diabetes see products like continuous glucose monitors as the valuable goods they are and are willing to pay for them. No person who uses a CGM recreationally has it covered by their insurance, and it’s important to remember that.

It’s not a zero-sum game where someone’s CGM that’s paid for out of pocket in San Francisco precludes another person on Maine’s Medicaid program from accessing one of their own, but it feels like it does. Instead of taking our anger out on the gym-rat in Colorado who’s paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for their Dexcom each month (which is stupid, but why question their motives?), we should be angry at the government and systems that created this situation to begin with.

If the United States had a single-payer health care system where everyone who lives here had health coverage, we wouldn’t care what people buy on the free market. If all plans (including Medicaid!) covered CGM use for people with diabetes at 100% of the cost, it wouldn’t bother us what anyone else was doing with their blood sugar levels (diabetic or not). It’s a symptom of a system that denies people with diabetes the proper care and regular, reliable access to proper durable medical equipment that makes them covet these devices as much as we do. There’s nothing inherently wrong with people without diabetes using CGMs, but it does sure feel like there should be. 

CGM for non-diabetic population

Photo credit: iStock

Some People Support Wider Use of CGMs

In speaking with others for this story, I found several people who encourage non-diabetics to use CGMs, like Mindy, a registered dietician from Colorado,

“I am pleased that there is adequate supply for people without diabetes who can view the real-time movements and fluctuations of blood glucose. The more understanding there is in groups of non-DMs, maybe we can finally change the direction of people diagnosed with (type 2) in the future.”

Christie, from California, added,

“being mad about someone having a CGM that they bought on the free-market is similar to someone with hypertension being angry over another person having an at-home blood pressure monitor. It just doesn’t compute.”

In a country with nearly 100 million people living with prediabetes, learning to respond to blood sugar trends and figuring out which foods work best for your body can only be a good thing. And although it hasn’t happened yet, the more “mainstream” these devices become, the more affordable they’re bound to become, which would be great for everyone. Additionally, for shy diabetics, CGMs becoming more mainstream can also take away the stigma of having a visible device on your body 24/7. It’s suddenly “cool”.

Benefits for Everyone

Whether or not you have diabetes, a continuous glucose monitor can help with several things:

  • Learning how your body responds to certain foods (grapes versus crackers, for instance)
  • Identifying blood sugar patterns around mealtime and exercise
  • Diagnosing diabetes before the onset of ketoacidosis (DKA) in people at high risk (people who are overweight, obese, live with prediabetes, or who have the antibodies for type 1 diabetes)
  • Improving blood sugar to help maximize energy for a workouts
  • Helping people lose weight by managing their hunger (which is the result of fewer blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day)

In a country where over 70 million adults are obese and another 99 million are overweight, having more data regarding how our bodies respond to the foods we eat is vital. We have a type 2 diabetes epidemic on our hands that is only getting worse, and wider CGM usage may help curb that, but people need to be careful.

Using them as “wellness gimmicks” may bombard those who truly do not understand the relationship between glucose and blood sugars, leaving users overwhelmed with data and confused, while not making any dietary changes at all. In a true market economy, the greater the demand, the more competition will spring up, the more prices will fall (for both people with and without diabetes).

The real issue that people need to focus on is making sure that everyone with diabetes who wants a CGM can get one, but people without diabetes accessing CGMs on the open market will not prevent that from happening. We need to push for greater coverage for CGMs on the private and public health insurance market with our elected officials and make sure that we inch ever closer to the illustrious universal health care system that other industrialized countries enjoy. We need to make sure that everyone with diabetes has access to affordable insulin, pumps, and supplies (including CGMs), with strong grassroots advocacy to equip people with all the tools they need to thrive. If we achieve universal health care maybe someday everyone who truly needs a CGM can get one, but until then, let the Crossfit bro with his Dexcom sensor alone. Although you can let him know that the caffeine in his latte will raise his blood sugar a few points in the meantime.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Realistic Goal-Setting and Avoiding Stigma: One Mom’s Perspective

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Bonnie O’Neil

The title of the article arrests my attention, compelling me to read further. The Numbers of Shame and Blame: How Stigma Affects Patients and Diabetes Management. I shudder as I read the results of a study by the diaTribe Foundation. “Diabetes stigma affects 76% of people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and 83% of parents raising a child with T1D.” The statistics are so high.

Stigma. The word itself sounds uncomfortable on my lips. Diabetes stigma means carrying a sense of disgrace or shame because of having T1D, an unpreventable auto-immune disease.

I continue reading. “The majority of respondents who believe T1D is associated with social stigma identified the top three drivers of diabetes stigma — a perception of failure of personal responsibility, a perception of being a burden on society, and a perception of having a character flaw.”

I cringe as I read these findings. Does my son feel like he’s a failure when his blood sugars don’t cooperate and do what he wants them to do? Maybe he does. I know as his parent and caregiver I feel like a failure when his A1c isn’t what I had hoped it would be. Does he feel like he’s a burden on society? On his school? On his family? Oh, I hope not. I can hardly even reread that last driver of stigma on the list. Does he feel like he has a character flaw simply because he has T1D? My heart rises up to my throat.

How can I help my son navigate living with T1D in such a way that he doesn’t fall prey to the shame and failure associated with disease stigma? Rereading the statistics, I pause and ask myself another question. How do I as his parent carry disease stigma? The survey tells me 83 percent of us parents raising a child with T1D are affected by it. Am I a part of that 83 percent? When his physician suggests we make some changes to achieve better outcomes, do my reactions model for my son my own feelings of failure, guilt, or shame?

Whether overtly stated or simply implied, we all have goals in mind for our child’s T1D management. While I never announced my goals as clearly as I would my New Year’s resolutions, my son and I both knew what they were.

  • A1c at 7.0 or below
  • Blood sugars between 80-150
  • Not too many juice boxes in a day

Setting goals is important; it’s what keeps us moving forward as humans. During certain times of the year we’re especially focused on goal setting. Whether it’s January’s hopes for the new year, September’s back-to-school focus, or our birth month marking one more circuit around the sun, we can’t escape the human drive to set goals.

But in our best efforts to keep our child healthy and safe, how can we set reasonable goals that serve more as guard rails than leave us feeling stigmatized if the goals are left unmet?

Set Realistic Goals

It’s easy to slip from the hope and optimism of setting a new goal to feeling shame if those goals aren’t attained. Start small when setting new goals. Remember your child lives with this disease 24/7. Your eagerness to try a new approach to glucose management might feel like the addition of one more heavy weight placed on top of what your child is already carrying. Check in with your child. How does he feel about your goals? There’s a fine line between maintaining glucose control and contributing to diabetes burnout.

Hold Your Goals Loosely

Beware of the trap of stigma when we don’t hit our goals. Commit to living in the no-shame zone. The statistics reveal that 83% of parents raising a child with T1D struggle with stigma, meaning we parents struggle more with shame than even our children with T1D do. The next time you find yourself stressing over an unmet goal you have for your child’s care, recognize that the 83% is you. And it’s me. Let’s break the power of stigma in our own lives so we don’t model it and pass it along to our children. Offer grace to yourself and your child if the goals go out the window for a period of time. You can always get back on track once this season is over, so don’t buy into the failure narrative. Be good to yourself and to your child.

Be Aware of What You Reward

When my son was young, I would often take him to buy a small toy or gift after his appointments with his endocrinologist. It was a few years before I realized that I only bought him a treat when his A1c was at a level that met or surpassed the goal I had in mind. What message was I sending to my son? That I only reward what makes me proud? That my pride in him was linked to his A1c? Even well-intentioned gestures can leave our children feeling shame when they don’t reach our goals. Instead of rewarding only those times when the numbers match our goals, why not celebrate our child’s hard work and the joy of sharing life together after every appointment?

Watch Your Words

Goals like “Let’s do better with blood sugar control next year” imply a judgment that the past year was less than stellar. Your child (or you) may receive this message as a judgment that they (or you) were less than stellar last year. Words like better, good, and bad, which we use all too frequently when talking about blood sugars, are qualitative and can leave our child feeling stigmatized. Blood sugars and A1c’s are just numbers that provide us valuable information from which to make future decisions. Being careful with our language can help protect our child from carrying a sense of stigma.

Remember above all, our goal isn’t really about reaching blood sugar goals. Our goal is to build a healthy lifelong relationship with our child based on respect, encouragement, and love.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

New Target A1C Recommended for Youth with Type 1 Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Matthew Garza and Lydia Davis

The American Diabetes Association has lowered the A1C target for children to less than 7.0%, aiming to improve long-term health outcomes without increasing hypoglycemic events.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently issued a new recommendation on A1C targets for children: youth with type 1 diabetes should aim for an A1C below 7.0%, rather than the previously recommended target of 7.5%. The ADA also emphasized that although this is a target for the general population of children with type 1 diabetes, it is important that each child’s A1C goal be personalized, taking into account hypoglycemia awareness, baseline A1C, and other health issues.

In 2018, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) reiterated its long-held recommendation that children with type 1 diabetes should aim to have an A1C of less than 7.5%. This target was designed to help prevent severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in children. The ADA has revised that position in light of a recent review paper, which showed that elevated blood glucose levels can lead to significant complications during child development, including abnormal brain development, an increase in heart problems, retinopathy, and neuropathy. The review also showed that newer diabetes therapies and technology have resulted in a lower risk for severe hypoglycemia.

However, for certain groups of at-risk children, this new recommendation may not apply, and it may be safer to target an A1C of 7.5% or higher. Children with low hypoglycemia awareness, those who cannot alert others to symptoms of hypoglycemia, those without access to helpful diabetes technology (such as continuous glucose monitoring), and those who cannot test their blood glucose levels regularly should continue to aim for an A1C of less than 7.5%. Children with a history of severe hypoglycemia should aim for an A1C of less than 8.0%.

In contrast, children who are not at risk for hypoglycemia (for example during the often-experienced “honeymoon” period) should aim for an A1C as low as 6.5%.

The lower A1C goal of 7.0% will hopefully lead to a reduction in diabetes complications during childhood and throughout the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, without increasing their risk of severe hypoglycemia while they are young.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Importance of Sleep Health for Diabetes

Everyone who lives with diabetes knows that the cornerstones of successful management include insulin therapy, strict monitoring of one’s diet, exercise, and managing stress. But another, lesser-known key element to good diabetes management is sleep health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between 18 and 60 sleep at least 7 hours every night. Sleeping less than that is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even stroke.

Sleep health is especially important for people with diabetes. This article will outline the reasons why sleep health is so important and how you can improve your sleep health to improve your diabetes management.

Why Is Sleep Important?

Sleep is important for everyone. Sleep plays an important role not only in physical health but in mental health maintenance as well. During sleep, the body heals and repairs cells damaged during the day (like muscles worked and stretched during exercise), and even restores and clears out both heart and blood vessels, reducing inflammation throughout the body.

Sleep brings much-needed balance back to hormone levels, such as cortisol, serotonin, leptin, ghrelin, melatonin, and adrenaline, working to restore mental and emotional health. Restoration of these key hormones helps the body control stress, combat depression, achieve satiety, and manage hunger levels throughout the day.

Most importantly, sleep helps protect immune function. One study monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the virus to a group of people. The researchers discovered that those who sleep fewer than 7 hours for two weeks were nearly 3 times more likely to develop a cold than those in the study who slept 8 or more hours each night for the duration of the study.

Americans Are Not Getting Enough Sleep

This is all great, except Americans are simply not getting enough sleep. City-dwellers are more likely than those living in rural areas to suffer from sleep deprivation, and the CDC shows that the northeastern and Appalachian mountain parts of the country are the most affected. Nearly 11 percent of Americans are only getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night!

There are many reasons why people aren’t getting enough sleep: 24/7 technology, ever-increasing workloads, light and noise pollution in cities, the but most stunning reason, from the National Sleep Foundation, is that Americans simply don’t prioritize sleep.

In a survey, when Americans were asked which of five activities were most important to them, just 10% of people said sleep, the lowest by far out of exercise, nutrition, work, and other hobbies.

As a nation we are not getting enough sleep,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”

People With Diabetes Need to Prioritize Sleep!

Even though sleep is often disrupted because of diabetes due to CGM alarms, insulin pumps beeping, low and high blood sugars, and the 24/7 nature of the disease, sleep is crucial for good diabetes management.

“Getting inadequate amounts of sleep can negatively impact blood sugar levels short and long term,” says Dr. Gregg Faiman, an endocrinologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “In fact, sleep is as essential to your health as nutrition and exercise,” he says.

Not having enough of it can cause insulin resistance and insatiable hunger due to out of balance hormones, fatigue that makes exercising more difficult, and brain fog that makes carbohydrate counting and the self-control to properly manage food and diet harder.

Sleep affects all other elements of diabetes management: when you don’t have enough sleep, you need more insulin (due to insulin resistance from spiked cortisol levels) to control blood sugars, your body is hungrier when your hormonal leptin levels are off balance, which makes eating and balancing carbohydrates more complex, you’re more tired which makes exercise all the more difficult, and your body is naturally stressed out, wreaking havoc on diabetes management.

Plus, if you nap during the day to try and make up for a bad night’s rest, you may not be tired at bedtime, and one sleepless night can lead to two, which can then turn into a chronic problem, which sets the stage for harder to control blood sugars, higher HbA1c, and possibly even complications later on in life.

how to get enough sleep

Photo credit: iStock

Strategies to Improve Sleep Health

Creating good sleep habits can take time, but the following recommendations can help you improve your sleep, which will positively affect not only your diabetes management but your overall health as well:

  • Exercise daily so you are tired at bedtime
  • Avoid all caffeine after 12 p.m.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • Do not nap during the day
  • Use the bathroom right before bed, so you don’t wake up in the middle of the night to go
  • Limit fluids before bed
  • Make sure your blood sugar isn’t too high or low at bedtime
  • Turn your thermostat down at bedtime for more peaceful sleep
  • Take a relaxing bath before bed
  • Eat foods that contain natural melatonin at night: cherries, pomegranate, grapes, walnuts, peanuts, or sunflower seeds work well
  • Do some gentle yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises to calm you down before bed
  • Do not allow screens in the bedroom; opt for journaling or reading in bed instead (except, of course, your continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump)
  • Close all curtains and make your room as dark as possible
  • Keep pets outside of the bedroom, and especially off the bed (except diabetes alert dogs, of course).

Managing sleep can be complex and challenging, but making sure to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night will make diabetes management easier and better blood sugars more achievable.

Try out these tactics for several weeks, and see if any make a meaningful difference in the amount of quality sleep you’re getting each night, and if it has any positive effects on blood sugar levels the next day.

While an underrated component of diabetes health, sleep is crucial for better blood sugar management, one night at a time. Do you struggle with getting an adequate amount of quality sleep each night? What tactics have helped you improve your sleep health? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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