SIMEDHealth

Taking Control of Your Health with Dr. Anubha Gupta

SIMEDHealth Primary Care is happy to welcome Dr. Gupta to the team! To learn more about her, watch the video below, then scroll down to read her tips on healthy aging. 

 

 

Healthy Aging Month Tips

Healthy aging is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Every September, Healthy Aging Month is observed and focuses on various aspects of growing older. Healthy aging revolves explicitly around a holistic approach to aging for people 50 years of age and older. This incorporates individuals' physical, mental, and social well-being and allows them to reflect on the past with motivation to improve their health in the future. With the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on everyone's work, family, and social life, there is even more of an urgent need for us to reflect on the various aspects of our health.

It is never too late to start working towards a healthier goal. So, let's reinvent ourselves and take control during the National Healthy Aging Month by creating an environment that enables us to do what we value in our lives. A few things I believe will allow you to get moving in the right direction:

Age: It's a state of mind. Think about when you felt the healthiest and try to think and act that way. The bottom line is – POSITIVE THINKING works. So be optimistic in life and turn your focus to positive things. Imagine the glass to be half full rather than half empty.

Stay active and exercise: These are an integral part of healthy aging. Studies suggest exercising allows people to live longer, healthier and better. It reduces your risk of developing various diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and disability with aging. In addition, exercise improves muscle strength and balance, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis and falls. One easy way to make exercise part of your routine is to stay active in your daily life by taking the stairs, walking your pet, gardening, etc. Or, develop an exercise schedule with a good mix of endurance exercises that will allow you to achieve the above goals. Yoga and meditation may also be a great way to begin your journey to stay active and healthy.

Consult your physician if you are unsure which activities are okay with your medical condition.

Smart food choices: This plays an integral part in how people age. There is a lot of evidence connecting unhealthy food choices and micronutrient deficiencies to various medical problems. Making smart food choices collectively as a family makes it easier and more fun. A few things which need to be avoided are processed foods, high-calorie snacks, refined grains, red and processed meat, fast food, soda, and solid fats. Instead, substitute them for high-fiber cereal, low-fat dairy, non-white bread, whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and snacks with no added sugars. Keep track of what you eat and hold yourself accountable.

Additional attention must be paid to adequate intake of micronutrients and vitamins as their deficiency can be associated with various medical problems like muscle atrophy, poor physical activity, weak bones, and back pain.

Mental health: It's not uncommon for people to have mental health issues like depression with aging. It is essential to recognize the warning signs. These issues can complicate management and worsen health in people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain. Some of the warning signs of depression may include changes in mood, energy level, or appetite. Other warning signs include difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, fatigue, poor concentration, tearfulness, sadness, hopelessness, anger, feeling stressed, and suicidal thoughts.

It is essential to realize that mental disorders can be treated and don't hesitate to ask for help. If you are unsure about your symptoms, talk to your health care provider, someone you can confide in, or call the Alachua County Crisis Center (352-264-6789). If you feel you are in a crisis, you can also call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Connect with family and friends: It's been hard for people to connect during the pandemic due to social distancing and other restrictions. Thanks to various ways to electronically be in touch like Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. – we can stay connected with our friends and loved ones. Start today by contacting a friend, family member or make a special interest group to connect with people.

Hobbies: Think about what you like to do and explore new activities which are fun and relaxing. Studies have demonstrated that people involved in hobbies and social and leisure activities may lower their risk of developing specific health problems. This may be reading, gardening, spending time with family, participating in social activities, and being part of a social group. Others may feel more productive by engaging in activities like volunteering in the community or working towards a social cause. Find what motivates you, and don't be afraid to pursue it.

In summary, healthy aging is a process that incorporates various aspects of mental, social, and physical well-being, and it's never too late to start working on this process. As your physicians and Primary Care clinicians at SIMEDHealth, we take pride in helping guide our patients through this process. We will be happy to discuss any of these with you to help kickstart your healthy aging journey.

 

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr.Gupta.

Testing for COVID-19

In the fight against COVID-19, testing is key. But there are several types of tests that can be confusing for those who don’t know the difference. We talked to SIMEDHealth Primary Care Physician David Lefkowitz, MD, about what makes these tests distinct and what tests SIMEDHealth offers.

1. What is the difference between an antibody test, an antigen test, and a viral test?

Dr. Lefkowitz says, “Antibody tests look for antibodies to a particular pathogen, in this case, SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus). Antibodies are proteins made by your immune system in response to a pathogen. So, if you test for COVID-19 antibodies, you are trying to see if someone has been exposed to COVID-19 already. It may take days or even weeks for antibodies to become detectable. So antibody tests are not useful to diagnose an early active COVID-19 infection. The test itself is done either via a blood draw or with a drop of blood from your finger. Note, these tests are also referred to as serologic tests.”

“Antigen tests look for pieces of the virus and are typically done via a nasal swab,” Dr. Lefkowitz replied. “The nice thing about these tests is the rapid turnaround time, usually about 15 minutes. The downside is they are not as sensitive as the PCR test described below, and so they may miss people who do have the virus. Therefore, if there is a high suspicion someone has symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, but they have a negative rapid antigen test, they would likely be well served to also receive a PCR to be sure whether they have COVID-19. This type of testing is also known as POC (point-of-care) testing, and it is often done  where a lot of testing needs to be completed in a short period of time, such as in medical facilities, schools, military facilities, and even airports.”

“Viral tests look specifically for the RNA of the COVID-19 virus,” explains Dr. Lefkowitz. “Depending on the type of test, viral tests use a nasal swab, oropharyngeal swab, or saliva.” He adds, “These tests can be used to diagnose active COVID-19 infection. Note, this type of testing is also known as a molecular test or a PCR test. It remains the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosing COVID-19 infections, meaning it is the most accurate.”

2. Who should get an antibody test? Who should get a viral test?

“Active infections are diagnosed with viral and antigen-type tests. These tests are also useful for screening asymptomatic people who may have COVID-19, so they don’t unknowingly spread the virus.” Dr. Lefkowitz continues, “Antibody tests are generally useful only for those who want to know if they had previous exposure to the virus. They are not useful for recent exposure. However, it is important to note that even if you test positive for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, it doesn’t mean you have immunity against COVID-19. We don’t know yet what kind of protection these antibodies give you, or for how long. So, you still need to wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands. Antibody tests are also used by scientists and researchers who are studying patients who have had COVID-19.”

3. What kind of COVID-19 testing does SIMEDHealth do?

“At SIMEDHealth, we do PCR testing and antibody testing. Dr. Lefkowitz says, “Previously, we had to send the nasal PCR swabs to an outside lab, which delayed getting results. Fortunately, our SIMEDHealth laboratory has recently acquired the capability to process the PCR tests and give a timely, highly accurate result. We aim to have results out in 45 minutes. As you can imagine, both patients and our staff will find the rapid turnaround time very useful in fighting against the spread of COVID-19.”

Lastly, Dr. Lefkowitz adds, “There has been much discussion regarding COVID-19 testing since the beginning of the pandemic. We have come a long way, but there is still progress to be made. I want to remind everyone to continue to take this virus seriously, especially as we enter the colder months and flu season. If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone tested positive for COVID-19, or the Influenza virus, you should be tested. If you have concerns, call us, we can help you.” Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lefkowitz today. 

Is it Possible to Prevent Cancer?

Currently, in the US, a cancer diagnosis is made every 23 seconds. February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and we talked to Robert Balbis, DO about preventable cancers and what lifestyle changes people can make to reduce their risk.

What cancers are considered to be the most preventable?

Breast, colon, endometrium (uterus), gastric, skin, and kidney cancers are all considered to be the most preventable. There is level one evidence that shows that if people keep a healthy lifestyle, they have a much lower risk of getting these cancers. 

Dr. Balbis emphasizes that there is no 100% preventable cancer. Still, if you do get diagnosed, having a healthy lifestyle will prepare you to take on the treatment and give you the best chance possible for recovery. 

What are some things people can do to prevent cancer?

1. Avoid Obesity

Balancing caloric intake with exercise and avoiding excessive weight gain is one of the best things people can do to lower their risk. There is evidence that obesity is a risk factor for breast, colon, endometrium, gastric, cardia, and kidney cancers. Plus, if someone is overweight going into cancer treatment, there is a poorer chance of full recovery. Dr. Balbis suggests maintaining a healthy body mass index throughout life through a proper diet and exercise.

2. Be Active

According to many studies, having a consistently active lifestyle helps reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancer. Dr. Balbis recommends, “at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per day at least five days a week." Some activity examples are briskly walking, yoga, biking, dancing, and swimming. 

3. Eat a Healthy Diet and Avoid Alcohol

There are two key factors in maintaining a healthy diet, portion control, and plant sources. There is a strong connection between colorectal cancer and red meat, so it is a good idea to limit beef, pork, and lamb. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have essential vitamins and nutrients that will keep your body healthy. 

4. Do your preventative screenings

Preventative screening tests done at the recommended intervals can detect "pre-cancerous" lesions or find newly formed cancers in their earlier stages. Thereby increasing the chances of effective treatments and cures. The American Cancer Society now recommends everyone start screening for colorectal cancer at age 45. Regular PAP smears and HPV immunizations should eliminate cervical cancer. Using SPF 15 or higher at all times when outdoors and getting regular skin exams can significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer or identify them early. 

 

If you would like to talk about your risk, how to reduce the risk, and hopefully prevent cancers, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Balbis or one of our other SIMEDHealth primary care providers. 

American Heart Month with Dr. Jenny Chen

Did you know 1 in 3 deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease every year in the United States? February is American Heart Month and aims to shed light on the dangers of cardiovascular diseases. We sat down with SIMEDHealth's Primary Care Physician Jenny Chen, MD, to discuss the most prevalent of the heart diseases, coronary artery disease.

1. What is Coronary Artery Disease?

"Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease and is caused by atherosclerosis plaque building up inside the heart arteries (coronary arteries). The plaque is composed of cholesterol, fatty deposits, and other material on the inner walls of the arteries", explains Dr. Chen. "These inner artery wall deposits result in narrowing or potential obstruction of the space for the flow of blood."

"A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery supplying your heart muscle is blocked, leading to loss of blood flow and oxygen to the muscle cells. If the blockage lasts too long, that part of your heart muscle dies." 

2. What are the factors that could lead to CAD?

Dr. Chen says, "Many factors can contribute to coronary artery disease. These risk factors include but are not limited to high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, family history/genetics, and aging."

3. What are some ways to prevent CAD?

"There are many ways to prevent or slow the progression of CAD," says Dr. Chen. "If you are a smoker, there is nothing more important in preventing the progression of CAD than stopping smoking. For those with diabetes, its very important to keep glucose under control through diet, exercise, and possibly medication. Eating a healthy diet, including numerous fruits and vegetables per day, minimizing trans-fat, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates, can all help prevent developing CAD. Also, keeping one's blood pressure well-controlled can help reduce the risk. This means periodically monitoring one's blood pressure and following doctors' instructions on diet, and taking the correct medications if needed. Cardiovascular exercise, if one is healthy enough to do so, can also reduce the risk of CAD. The goal is at least 10 min per session and at least a combined 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity."

4. What are the symptoms of a heart attack in men and women? Why are some of the symptoms different in women?

"Classic symptoms of a heart attack which both men and women can experience include chest pain, an aching sensation in your chest or left arm that may spread to your neck or jaw. Patients can also experience sweating, shortness of breath, palpitations, severe fatigue, nausea, upset stomach, or abdominal pain," says Dr. Chen.

She also adds, "Women are more likely than men to report non-classic symptoms of a heart attack. For example, a woman having a heart attack may complain only of nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort rather than chest pain."

5. What else can I do?

A visit with your primary care physician can help you identify the CAD risk factors that may apply to you. If not done recently, lab testing can be done to evaluate your cholesterol and glucose. Together you can then develop a plan to lower your CAD risks over time. By taking control of the risk factors, you can do a lot to prevent your chances of developing heart disease. 

 

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chen or one of our other Primary Care physicians and nurse practitioners. 

What You Need to Know About Donating Blood

Did you know a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood? January is National Blood Donor Month, and to spread awareness, we talked to Jenny Chen, MD of SIMEDHealth Primary Care in Ocala. We discussed the benefits and the process of donating.

 

1. Why is it important to give blood?

"Blood donation is essential for saving lives!" explains Dr. Chen. "Having stored blood available is necessary for surgeries, cancer treatment, certain blood disorders, and traumatic injuries. Benefits for donors include a free medical check-up satisfaction of helping others, and free cookies, juice, and sometimes promotional items."

 

2. What are the requirements to give blood?

  • According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, donors are eligible to donate no sooner than 56 days (eight weeks) after their previous donation. However, not all donors qualify at this minimum interval, as it depends upon how rapidly the person's body can replenish its red blood cells.
  •  You must be in good health and feeling well
  • You must be at least 16 or 17 years old in most states
  • You must weigh at least 110 lbs

3. How long does the donation process last?

Dr. Chen says, "The entire process takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, but the actual blood donation takes 8 to 10 minutes. However, the time varies slightly with each person depending on several factors, including the donor's health history." 

During the donation, a needle is put into a vein in the upper extremity. This is done by skilled medical personnel in such a way to minimize possible symptoms such as lightheadedness. One pint of blood is withdrawn, approximately 500 mL, which is equivalent to one "unit". The donor is monitored during the donation and for a few minutes afterward. Juice and snacks are provided to help decrease post-donation symptoms.

 

4. Are there any side effects of donating blood?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1.2% of donors suffered from an adverse reaction. Dr. Chen assures, "The vast majority had mild reactions such as agitation, sweating, pallor, cold feeling, sense of weakness, nausea. Only 0.2% had more severe disorders, including vomiting, loss of consciousness, and fainting."

"It is important to note that, donating removes iron from the body, and can result in a temporary iron deficiency if the lost iron is not replaced," explains Dr. Chen. "The risk of iron deficiency is highest in teenage donors, menstruating women, and individuals who donate frequently." For some, just eating iron-rich foods is not sufficient to replenish lost iron. Many donation organizations recommend taking an iron supplement or a multivitamin for 60 days to replace the iron lost through each donation.

 

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chen or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care physicians today!

Do You Know What Thyroid Disease Is?

An estimated 20 million people in the United States have thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, and we talked to Larissa Lim, MD of SIMEDHealth Primary Care, about the function of the thyroid and common diseases and treatments. 

1. What is the thyroid?

Dr. Lim says, "The thyroid gland is located on the bottom part of the front of the neck. It is composed of two lobes (left and right) and a middle region called the isthmus; some compare the shape to a butterfly." 

2. What is its function in the body?

"The gland secretes hormones influencing the growth and maturation of tissues, the functioning of all cells in the body, and our total energy expenditure," explains Dr. Lim. "These energy expenditures include raising or lowering body temperature, the rate of our heartbeat, and activation of the nervous system."

3. What can happen if it stops functioning correctly?

"When the thyroid gland does not synthesize enough hormone, hypothyroidism develops." Dr. Lim says, "In adults, symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, constipation, cold intolerance, muscle cramping and stiffness, carpal tunnel syndrome, weight gain, dry skin and hair, voice hoarseness, and excessive menstruation. Infants with hypothyroidism can develop jaundice, hoarse cry, constipation, drowsiness, and feeding problems." 

"On the other hand, problems can also ensue when it produces too many hormones. Hyperthyroidism is the overproduction of the active thyroid hormone thyroxine. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include unintentional weight loss, rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, increased appetite, sweating, difficulty sleeping, increased sensitivity to heat, and anxiety."

4. What are some common thyroid diseases? How are they treated?

  • "Goiter is an enlargement of the gland," reports Dr. Lim. "The symptoms include swelling and tightness of the neck, difficulty breathing, coughing, or hoarseness of voice. Most of the time, people experience no symptoms, but if they do, they have several treatment options. They can take small doses of iodine, use radioactive iodine to shrink the thyroid, or have all or part of the gland surgically removed."
  • "Grave's disease is an effect of hyperthyroidism. Grave's disease is associated with increased metabolism. It causes the muscles and tissues behind the eyes to swell. When severe causes the eyes to bulge forward," Dr. Lim states, "There is no overall cure for hyperthyroidism, but the symptoms can be controlled. Conventional treatments include beta-blockers, radioactive iodine to eliminate all or part of the gland or complete removal." 
  • According to the National Cancer Institute, thyroid cancers are generally rare, affecting less than 4% of the population. Dr. Lim explains, "They usually present as nodules measuring more than 1 cm. Treatment is often surgery, sometimes followed by radioactive iodine."

 

For an appointment with Dr. Lim or another SIMEDHealth Primary Care physician, please click here!

Starting and Keeping Your New Year's Weight Loss Goal

92% of restaurant meals exceed the average person’s recommended calories for a single meal. January is Healthy Weight Awareness Month, and we talked to SIMEDHealth’s new Primary Care and Family Medicine Physician Antje Floegel, MD, about healthily losing weight. 

 

What are some tips for preventing weight gain?

Dr. Floegel says, "To achieve a substantial weight loss, one must work on changing the balance of the calories consumed through food and drinks, and the calories the body spends. It is important to remember that everyone is different, and there is not a "one size fits all strategy" for weight loss or weight maintenance." 

  • Cutting back on sugar and refined carbohydrates is a step in the right direction. Be sure to read food labels for added sugars. Even in foods, you would consider "healthy," there can be sugar added.  
  • A food diary, photo diary, or calorie counter can help keep track and visualize how much you consume every day.
  • Eating from smaller plates may help for portion control — dinner plates in the US are about 30 % larger than in Europe. The average American dinner plate is 12 inches across, which is up from the standard 9-inch plates used in the 1950s. 
  • Have healthy snacks (fruit, nuts, carrots, yogurt, boiled eggs) readily available in case you get hungry.
  • Choose non-starchy, colorful vegetables and fruits that contain water and fiber to fill and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Replace processed carbs by healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, fatty fish.
  • Maintain a consistent eating pattern across the weekdays and weekends.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Research suggests this is a healthy strategy for controlling insulin levels and jump-starting the metabolism.
  • Be mindful of your chewing. Sit down and slow down while eating to take the time, so you can recognize when you're full and stop before all your food is gone. If you are still a quick eater, try eating with your non-dominant hand. It is helpful as well to ask yourself why you are eating before you start. Are you actually hungry, or are you craving?
  • Change up your aerobic exercise in various intensities. One day go for a bike ride but try swimming or walking the next day. It will keep the excitement in your workouts, build and tone different muscle groups, plus burn calories.  Finding an exercise buddy can help you stick to your plan.
  • Get adequate sleep. Poor sleep habits can interfere with hormones regulating fat metabolism and increase the risk of being overweight.
  • Stress hormone levels are linked to increased amounts of abdominal fat.  Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga, can help reduce these hormone levels.

 

What are the long term health effects of being overweight?

  • Increases in all causes of death
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol - dyslipidemia
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep problems like obstructive sleep apnea
  • Respiratory issues like obesity hypoventilation 
  • Fertility issues
  • Osteoarthritis from early cartilage degeneration
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Some cancers (breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, liver, endometrial cancer)
  • Mental health problems 
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

 

Why is it easier to gain weight as you age?

Dr. Floegel explains, "We believe that the metabolism slows down by an estimated 5% per decade past 40. Now new research at Karolinska Institute in Sweden has uncovered why that is. Lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases during aging. It makes it easier to gain weight, even if we don't eat more or exercise less than before."

 

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Floegel or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care providers today!

 

Tips to Avoid The E.R. During the Holidays

Did you know emergency room visits increase during the holiday season? In some areas, there is a 10-15% increase around Christmas and New Year's Day. To prepare yourself for some possible accidents, Larissa Lim, MD of SIMEDHealth Primary Care, provided us with some tips on how to avoid the E.R.

  • Minimize exposure to sick people. If you cannot avoid exposure to ill family members, consider asking those who are coughing to wear a mask. Proper and regular handwashing will also reduce your chances of catching infections.
  • Get your flu shot in the fall each year to minimize the risks associated with Influenza. The flu lasts typically 5-7 days and causes lots of lost work and family time. It can also cause other infections like pneumonia and sometimes leads to death.
  • Don't forget to take all your prescribed medications as instructed. This can be a busy time, and with the holiday excitement, the routines things may get overlooked. Nothing is more important than your health. Set timers, leave yourself notes, whatever needs to be done to stay on track.
  • If you become ill, contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation. Many medical offices and urgent care centers are open around the holidays. Even if they are closed, there is usually a physician, nurse, or physician assistant on-call who can assist your medical decision making by telephone. 
  • Don't drink and drive. Drug and alcohol-related emergency room visits to jump to 10.1% on Christmas and skyrocket to 17.1% on New Year's Eve. Make a plan before going to parties to have a friend or family member that is the designated driver or to take a taxi, Lyft, or Uber. 
  • Avoid the emergency room unless you are dealing with severe life-threatening emergencies like chest pain, trouble breathing, head injuries, and signs of a stroke. Crowded emergency rooms can be dangerous, so consider going to an urgent care center first.

 

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lim or one of our other Primary Care physicians. 

How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season is all about family, friends, fun, and usually food. It is essential during your holiday gatherings to remember to also watch out for your health. Below are six tips from SIMEDHealth Primary Care Physician Mary Hurd, MD, about encouraging your participation in these festivities while not compromising your health. 

1. Get your flu vaccine. It is preferable not to wait until the holiday season to receive the influenza immunization. However, if you haven't gotten it yet, it is okay and encouraged to do so now. 

2. Eat regularly and do not "save calories" for later. Dr. Hurd says, "People think that not eating before a big meal makes it acceptable to overeat for a holiday gathering, which is untrue and very unhealthy." Bodies need nutrients and energy that come from food consistently. Days, when you know you're going to be eating more than usual, are no exception to that. It is a dangerous and unnecessary step to take before a big meal.

3. Dr. Hurd says, "When attending a holiday gathering, choose vegetables, over starches." While delicious, try to limit your intake of foods like gravy, stuffing, and other high-fat side dishes. Though they're tempting, trying to keep your plate balanced will make you feel better in the long run. 

4. "Plan on taking a 15-20 minute walk after a holiday meal, especially if you have overeaten or overindulged," suggests Dr. Hurd. A brisk walk around the block or up and down the street can get you active and make your bloated stomach feel better. Research has found that walking can help speed up the time it takes food to move from the stomach to the small intestine. 

5. Dr. Hurd recommends, "If you are cooking the holiday meal, consider substituting high-fat ingredients for low-fat alternatives. Use fat-free sour cream or yogurt or reduced-fat cheese."

6. "Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. For men, the recommended intake is two drinks per day, and women one drink per day.", advises Dr. Hurd. Excessive drinking can affect motor skills, which can lead to falls, burns, and other unintentional injuries, and exacerbate chronic diseases. 

If you would like to talk to Dr. Hurd or one of our other SIMEDHealth Primary Care physicians about what you can do to stay healthy, click here

Understanding Diabetes with Dr. Seth Perkins

30.3 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes. That's 1 in 11 people! November is American Diabetes Education Month, and we talked to Dr. Seth Perkins, one of our SIMEDHealth Primary Care Physicians serving our Lady Lake community. Dr. Perkins filled us in on the difference between the types of diabetes, what its symptoms are, and what patients can do to try and prevent diagnosis. 

1. What is diabetes, and what is the difference between type 1 and type 2?

"Diabetes is a disease where the body does not properly break down carbohydrates (i.e., sugars and starches), and sugar levels are high in the blood and the urine," says Dr. Perkins. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the body is not producing enough insulin, a hormone that causes sugar to move into the cells of our bodies to be used for energy. Type 2 diabetes is when the body has a resistance to insulin and requires more and more insulin to be produced, exceeding our body's capacity to do so. The main treatment option for Type 1 patients is insulin. Type 2 patients take oral medications initially and may require insulin or other injection medications as time passes. 

 

2. What causes diabetes for both types?

Dr. Perkins says, "Type 1 forms because of the destruction of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin." Typically, but not always, patients receive a Type 1 diagnosis at a younger age. Type 2 has causes related to multiple issues, including genetics and the environment in which someone grew up or presently lives. Patients usually receive a Type 2 diagnosis at an older age. "Diet and lifestyle play significant roles in the causes of type 2 diabetes," explains Dr. Perkins.

 

3. What are its symptoms?

Dr. Perkins says, "The most frequent symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination even at nighttime, increased thirst resulting in drinking more fluids than usual, blurry vision, and unexplained weight loss. Type 2 diabetics, however, if caught early, can often present without symptoms."

 

4. What can people do to prevent it?

The best way to prevent diabetes is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Regular physical activity is particularly important. Dr. Perkins states, "A minimum of one hundred fifty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise is recommended per week. Moderate aerobic exercises include walking briskly, dancing, and swimming." Additionally, a healthy diet is essential. A diet focused on eating a wide variety of healthy foods is more likely to be followed long-term. Weight loss improvement is also highly recommended, as obesity is a potential risk for developing diabetes. Smoking doesn't cause diabetes, but if it is present, smoking dramatically increases the long term complication risks.

 

5. After being diagnosed, what can patients do to stay healthy?

The above recommendations of physical activity, healthy diet, weight loss, and smoking cessation are helpful for people who are diagnosed. Dr. Perkins says, "Once diagnosed, diabetes education classes can give additional guidance. Meeting with a dietician or nutritionist is also an excellent way to develop a plan for staying healthy. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels is essential, as it can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Not smoking or stopping smoking, as mentioned above. Most importantly, people that have been diagnosed should discuss this with their doctors, who will work with them to develop a personalized plan to help them make healthy decisions."