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Oct 18, 2021

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to process and use glucose (a type of sugar) in your blood properly for energy for your cells. If not controlled, it may lead to excess glucose in your blood, which could lead to serious health issues.

There are different types of diabetes:

  • Prediabetes: glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified at diabetes. It’s often a precursor of diabetes, but you can take preventative measures.
  • Diabetes mellitus type 1: a chronic condition where the pancreas does not produce any or enough insulin, which causes an excess of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin is the hormone that helps your body cells to use glucose as energy for it to function properly.
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2: the most common type of diabetes. Your body progressively becomes insulin resistant, or your pancreas gradually doesn’t produce enough insulin. You can take steps to prevent or delay this type of diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: may occur during pregnancy, but may also resolve after birth.
  • Diabetes insipidus: this is a rare condition, where a large amount of urine is produced.

Diabetes and COVID-19

Diabetes doesn’t increase your likelihood of contracting COVID-19, but it may lead to a severe infection if you do contract the virus. This is because high blood glucose levels suppress your immune system, which allows a virus to multiply. In turn, glucose levels may increase when an infection causes a stress response in your body, which worsens the infection.

Diabetes management and treatment

  1. Healthy lifestyle

    It’s important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. This is important to help prevent or manage any type of diabetes.

    When you’ve completed your free Health Assessment with Bestmed Medical Scheme, you unlock access to free wellness journeys with a Bestmed Tempo biokineticist and Bestmed Tempo dietitian, who will personalise fitness and nutrition plans for you.

  2. Glucose monitoring

    If you’re diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1 or type 2, you need to monitor your glucose levels regularly. If you receive insulin therapy, you need to monitor your glucose levels more frequently than those who don’t. You could choose to use a glucose metre, or continuous glucose monitor. Bestmed offers Continuous/Flash Glucose Monitoring benefits on Pace3 and Pace4.

  3. Medications

    You may be prescribed oral or injected medications  to help manage your diabetes. Some medications help to stimulate your pancreas to produce and release insulin, while others inhibit your liver to produce and release glucose. There are also some medications that stop your stomach or intestinal enzymes from breaking down carbohydrates or making your tissues sensitive to insulin. Some medications also help to prevent your kidneys to excrete and not reabsorb glucose into your blood.

  4. Insulin

    There are many types of insulin available, including:

  • short-acting (regular) insulin
  • rapid-acting insulin
  • long-acting insulin
  • intermediate options

    If you’re diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 1, you will need to inject yourself with insulin or use an insulin pump. Many, but not all, who have type 2 or gestational diabetes need insulin therapy.

    Carbohydrate counting

  1. An effective way to manage your glucose levels, if you have type 1 diabetes, is carbohydrate counting. This means that you can match your insulin dose to the amount of carbs you eat and drink.

  2. HbA1c blood test

    You will need to go for an HbA1c blood test every two to three months, depending on your doctor’s recommendation. It monitors your glucose levels and gives you a more accurate indication of the success of your treatment plan, which may be adjusted depending on your test results.

  3. Pancreas transplant
    A pancreas transplant may be an option if you are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. If your transplant is successful, you’ll no longer need insulin therapy. However, because a transplant poses many risks, you may only be considered if you struggle to control you diabetes, or you also need a kidney transplant.

    An artificial pancreas may also be considered. It’s worn like an insulin pump, measures glucose levels and delivers insulin via an insulin pump.

Bestmed Diabetes care programme

Diabetes insipidus, diabetes mellitus type 1 and diabetes mellitus type 2 are Chronic Disease List conditions for which medical schemes must cover the diagnosis, medical management and medicines as published by the Council for Medical Schemes.

Besides the above, the Bestmed Diabetes care programme helps diabetic beneficiaries to live their best lives. HaloCare administers this manged care programme, which co-ordinates different role players in diabetes disease management to achieve the best health outcomes for patients.

Programme benefits include:

  • automatic enrolment once registered as a diabetic by Bestmed, at no additional cost
  • access to specialised doctors and pharmacy networks
  • access to diabetes nurse educators and clinical case managers
  • access to primary care diabetes consultations at any Dis-Chem Pharmacy Clinic, including: HbA1c blood tests, physical assessment, counselling, education, and referrals
  • emergency after-hours support
  • education about living with diabetes
  • information to understand your condition and latest treatment norms better
  • specialist assistance and advice to your treating family practitioner

For more information, visit Bestmed’s diabetes web page, or email bestmeddiabetes@halocare.co.za


References

Bestmed Medical Scheme. 2021. Diabetes. Available [Online]: https://www.bestmed.co.za/benefits-and-cover/diabetes. [Accessed: 14 October 2021].

Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Diabetes: An overview. Available [Online]: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7104-diabetes-mellitus-an-overview. [Accessed: 14 October 2021].

Diabetes UK. n.d. Learn about carb counting. Available [Online]: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/carbohydrates-and-diabetes/nuts-and-bolts-of-carb-counting/learn-about-carb-counting#:~:text=If%20you're%20living%20with,carbohydrate%20you%20eat%20and%20drink. [Accessed: 18 October 2021].

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Diabetes: Diagnosis & Treatment. Available [Online]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371451. [Accessed: 14 October 2021].

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Diabetes: Symptoms & Causes. Available [Online]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444. [Accessed: 15 October 2021].

Murphy, A. (Dr). 2020. COVID-19 and diabetes. Diabetes South Africa. Available [Online]: https://www.diabetessa.org.za/covid-19-and-diabetes/. [Accessed: 18 October 2021]

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