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  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 


    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.


    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 


    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.


    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.


    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.


    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.


    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.


    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.


    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 


    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.


    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 


    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog: https://bit.ly/3KbVUA1.
    Click to Tweet

     

    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.


    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.

     

    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!


    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

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  • November 29, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Master’s Degree in Health Informatics & Data Science at Georgetown University

    A NEW Master’s program in Health Informatics and Data Science (HIDS) has been approved by the Georgetown University Board of Directors. The Master's in Health Informatics & Data Science (HIDS) is an industry-driven program, focused on current and emerging technologies that will inform healthcare. Students will gain core competency in data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications to achieve Precision Medicine and Value-based healthcare. The program curriculum aligns with the core competencies for training in the field of medical informatics by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

    Georgetown University’s graduate and professional programs are among the most rigorous and respected around the world. The program offers students access to Georgetown’s distinguished faculty and unique opportunities in the nation’s capital.

    If you are a prospective student and desire more information about the program, visit here.

    APPLICATION IS DUE ON MAY 15TH FOR FALL ADMISSION!

     

  • November 28, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    By Stacey Gonzalez

    In my previous blog post, I described the unique immersive experience The Telluride Experience (TTE) program delivers and the profound impact it has had on over 1,000 resident physicians and health science students that have gone through the workshop.  But the immersive environment and varied teaching modalities is only half the story.  

    During my time with TTE, I have repeatedly witnessed how deeply personal patient stories and engagement of patient and family advisors throughout the 4-day workshops are essential to truly changing learners’ attitudes and actions. 

    Patient stories are incredibly powerful in an industry where patients are often seen as a set of ailments rather than a person.  And while impactful stories have been central to the curriculum since its inception, TTE goes even further.  Imagine hearing a life-altering medical story, and then discussing the event directly with the patient or family member who was (and is) living it every day. 

    Patient and family advisors are an invaluable part of our TTE family, and it’s hard to forget after attending that every patient and family member is a valuable part of your healthcare team.

    Students learn about leading-edge patient safety topics from internationally renowned leaders at TTE, but (again) it goes even further.  Daily social activities and group outings afford learners additional opportunities with faculty to continue discussions or ask questions.  We often hear how some of the most meaningful lessons occurred one night around a fire pit, or while over a drink at happy hour, which is hard to find at typical programs.

    And finally, Telluride Experience alumni are embraced by a community of like-minded colleagues for ongoing support or collaboration long after departing.  But (once more) it goes even further, and that partnership is formed not just among the learners themselves, but with the faculty and patient advocates who remain an email or phone call away. 

    We hear from alumni, years later, how TTE helped them improve care and safety at their own institutions or how it changed the way they engage with and care for their patients.  We are proudly entering an era where TTE alumni are returning – this time as faculty members or small group leaders.

    Whether you’re reading this as a prospective student, alumni, Dean, administrator, or anyone looking for an exceptional patient safety program, we hope you’ll consider learning more, applying, or supporting our program.  We rely on your word of mouth, referrals, and financial support to continue our mission. 

    Additionally, please check out our new book, Shattering the Wall: Imagine Health Care without Preventable Harm, which tells the TTE story through the voices of our faculty and learner reflections.  All book sale profits go directly to supporting scholarships for future students and residents.

  • November 28, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    By Stacey Gonzalez

    Anyone reading a blog post for the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety probably already knows the importance of improving quality and safety.  You know healthcare has struggled for decades since first becoming truly aware of this issue’s magnitude and pervasiveness.  I’d also bet you’re already actively engaged (or seriously interested) in solutions.  For those reasons, I’ll jump right in to The Telluride Experience

    The Telluride Experience (TTE) is a 4-day, intensive workshop that convenes resident physicians and health science students to focus on patient safety concepts and the application of quality and safety improvement strategies and tools. Over 1,000 alumni across the United States and internationally have taken part in the Telluride Experience.

    However, the real story is what makes The Telluride Experience so unique and transformative for its learners. 

    There’s a quote with unclear origins that speaks well to the TTE approach.   

    Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn. (unk.)

    Whether originally said by Xunzi, Confucius, or Benjamin Franklin, the message is relevant.  Some lessons aren’t best taught by a lecture or textbook.  You need to be involved and immersed in the lesson to really “get” something in a way that will effect change in your daily life. 

    TTE utilizes various teaching modalities to help all students learn profoundly for sustained impact.  Small groups, engaging discussions, games, and case studies are all critical pieces of our unique formula.  Learners receive functional tools to share these lessons with colleagues after returning to their institutions. 

    Dr. Rachel Nash attended the Telluride Experience in 2012 as a rising 3rd year medical student, and in 2018 she reached back out to us.  Finding herself interviewing for her first attending job, she shared the following reflection on her career so far, attesting to the program’s long-standing impact. 

    “I keep coming back to the Telluride Roundtable and how meaningful that experience was for me. It was truly life changing. Being immersed in that environment with passionate people was incredibly powerful. I think that experience gave me the confidence to plan quality and safety events in medical school, and to be a successful resident.” 

    Whether you’re reading this as a prospective student, alumni, Dean, administrator, or anyone looking for an exceptional patient safety program, we hope you’ll consider learning more, applying, or supporting our program.  We rely on your word of mouth, referrals, and financial support to continue our mission. 

    Additionally, please check out our new book, Shattering the Wall: Imagine Health Care without Preventable Harm, which tells the TTE story through the voices of our faculty and learner reflections.  All book sale profits go directly to supporting scholarships for future students and residents.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how TTE consistently changes learners’ attitudes and actions, read on to Part Two of The Telluride Experience – Not Your Typical Patient Safety Training.

  • November 27, 2018

    By Susmeeta Tewari Sharma, MD

    The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, only about the size of a pea, located at the base of your brain. I think of the pituitary gland like the conductor of a mighty orchestra. As part of the endocrine system, the pituitary gland produces many hormones that travel throughout the body and direct other glands to work. Ordinarily, it’s a great system—unless that conductor starts misdirecting the orchestra, which can happen if you have a pituitary tumor.

    Pituitary tumors usually aren’t cancerous, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require treatment. When we know which types of tumors we’re dealing with and how they behave, we’re better able to treat them. We classify pituitary tumors as either functional or nonfunctional.

    Listen: Dr. Sharma discusses functional and nonfunctional pituitary tumors on the Medical Intel podcast.

    Differences between functional and nonfunctional pituitary tumors

    The classification of a pituitary tumor depends on whether it produces too much of a hormone normally produced by your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces hormones to regulate many systems in your body, including:

    • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which acts on the adrenal glands to stimulate the production of cortisol, which helps regulate the metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension
    • Growth hormone (GH), which controls the body’s normal growth process, particularly in children during puberty
    • Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which affect the reproductive glands of men and women
    • Prolactin, which promotes milk production in pregnant and nursing mothers
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which acts on the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones

    Pituitary tumors that produce excess hormones are called functional pituitary tumors. Those that don’t are called nonfunctional pituitary tumors. Nonfunctional tumors can cause a decrease in normal hormone production. These tumors can compress the pituitary gland and reduce the amount of hormones it’s able to release.

    How we diagnose pituitary tumors

    On occasion, we detect pituitary tumors during a test for other conditions, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan for a patient who has headaches that might not be related to a pituitary tumor. Many times, however, the process starts with an exam.

    We may test for a particular hormone if we see a patient with obvious signs of a functional pituitary tumor. If the symptoms aren’t as obvious, we may need to test for all pituitary hormones. Symptoms we look for include:

    • Breast milk production in a woman who is not pregnant or has not had a baby recently, which is a sign of too much prolactin
    • Distortion of facial features and/or abnormal growth of hands and feet (known as acromegaly), which can indicate too much GH
    • Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, a possible sign of too much TSH
    • Rapid weight gain and fat buildup in the body, particularly on the back of the neck, can be caused by too much ACTH and can indicate Cushing’s disease
    #Breastmilk production in a woman who isn’t pregnant or hasn’t had a baby recently is a possible sign of a #pituitary tumor. bit.ly/2KEBhyb via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet


    Blood and urine tests can tell us whether you have too much or not enough of a particular type of hormone. After that, we move on to dynamic blood testing, which involves the collection of blood samples over a several-hour period so we can measure changes in hormone levels.

    Next, we need to get detailed images of the pituitary gland, so we can be sure whether you have a tumor, where it’s located and how large it is. These images may come from:

    • MRI (preferred)
    • Computed tomography (CT)
    • Positron emission tomography (PET)

    If you have a pituitary tumor, we need to make sure it’s not causing vision loss. Because nonfunctional tumors often don’t cause symptoms that patients notice, they might grow large enough to compress other areas of the brain, such as the optic nerve. This nerve transmits images from the eye to the brain. A large nonfunctional pituitary tumor can press on the optic nerve’s fibers, leading to loss of peripheral vision, or can invade the blood spaces surrounding the pituitary tumor (cavernous sinuses), occasionally affecting the nerves controlling eye movements, leading to double vision.

    Large #pituitary tumors can cause #doublevision, loss of #peripheralvision or other #vision problems. via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet


    A nonfunctional pituitary tumor might not need to be removed right away, depending on its size and location, as well as any symptoms you may have. A functional tumor, however, always needs treatment because of its effects on your body’s hormones.

    How we treat pituitary tumors

    If you have a prolactin-secreting pituitary tumor, we usually can treat it with medications. Medications for prolactin-secreting tumors are so effective that we can shrink a tumor and bring the hormone levels under control without surgery.

    Most other pituitary tumors need to be removed surgically, so it’s important for your treatment team to include an expert neurosurgeon. Your neurosurgeon likely will be able to remove your tumor through a minimally invasive technique, which can offer faster recovery times than traditional pituitary surgery, along with no visible scarring. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Edward F. Aulisi, one of the country’s leading experts in pituitary surgery, overseeing our neurosurgery team.

    Our surgical treatments for pituitary tumors include:

    • Transsphenoidal surgery: The neurosurgeon makes a small incision in your nose or under your upper lip to remove the tumor through the sphenoid sinus, which is behind your nasal passages. We remove most pituitary tumors with this method.
    • Craniotomy: The neurosurgeon makes incisions on the front and side of your skull to remove the tumor. This procedure typically is for pituitary tumors that are too large or complex to access through minimally invasive techniques.

    The improvements we see after the removal of a pituitary tumor can be extraordinary. For example, I saw one patient who was in her 50s and, other than her well-controlled diabetes, had previously been perfectly healthy. Then she gained a lot of weight, and her muscles became so weak that she first needed a wheelchair, then couldn’t get out of bed at all. Her diabetes progressed out of control, and she developed high blood pressure and dangerous blood clots. We detected an ACTH-secreting pituitary tumor that had caused her to develop Cushing’s disease and led to her many health issues. After the patient’s tumor was removed and her hormone levels went back to normal, she started to recover. Now, after a year of intensive physical therapy, this patient is able to walk again, she no longer has high blood pressure and her diabetes is back under control. It’s a remarkable turnaround, and it’s just one of many such stories I’ve seen unfold after successful treatment for pituitary tumors.

    The pituitary gland may be little, but it’s critical to your body’s normal function. Through our team-based approach of identification and treatment, I’m confident that we can help more patients overcome these tumors and live a healthy life.


    Call 202-877-3627 or click below to make an appointment with a doctor.

    Request an Appointment

  • November 20, 2018

    By Valeriani R. Bead, MD

    High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a well-known condition in America. We regularly check it during doctor’s visits and see blood pressure monitors in many of the stores we visit every day. However, despite our awareness of the condition, about one in three Americans have it—and only about half have it under control.

    In 2018, even more Americans will be diagnosed with hypertension under new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology that lowered the target rate of blood pressure for average-risk individuals to 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or less. In years past, the target rate was 130/80 mm Hg or lower.

    Most of the patients who are affected by high blood pressure are people who are at increased risk, notably African-Americans, older adults, and pregnant women. These people are more susceptible to developing high blood pressure and tend to develop more serious complications from the disease.

    LISTEN: Dr. Bead discusses health strategies for patients at high-risk for hypertension in the Medial Intel podcast.

    Who is at high risk for hypertension?

    1. African-Americans

    African-Americans have the highest prevalence of hypertension among racial and ethnic groups. Not only are they most prone to high blood pressure, but control rates are lower in African-Americans as well. In this population, hypertension typically is more severe when diagnosed and therefore less likely to be well-controlled by standard treatment.

    Additionally, the risk of becoming ill, diseased, or dead due to hypertension is highest in African-Americans—which is why identifying and treating hypertension can have such a significant impact on the health of the African-American community.

    African-Americans are especially prone to #highbloodpressure, according to studies. Learn how Dr. Valeriani Bead says blood pressure levels can be maintained. bit.ly/2Bmarba via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    2. Older adults

    The older we are, the more likely we are to develop high blood pressure. A main reason is because our blood vessels gradually lose elasticity as we age, which can cause the heart to pump blood harder. Furthermore, seniors are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack, which can both be at least somewhat attributed to high blood pressure.

    3. Pregnant women

    Pregnant women are susceptible to high blood pressure, as it can slowly elevate during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. In serious cases, high blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to a condition called preeclampsia, which can have serious and sometimes fatal complications for both the mother and baby. Moreover, research studies tell us that mothers diagnosed with hypertension during pregnancy might be more likely to have high blood pressure later in life.

    How to treat hypertension

    Many lifestyle modifications can be effective in treating hypertension. For example, the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) study, which is a long-term, randomized trial that provides people with hypertension a specific eating plan, has shown that eating less sodium can reduce blood pressure by an average of 10 to 15 points.

    Other lifestyle modifications people can make to manage their blood pressure include:

    • Limiting alcohol
    • Losing weight
    • Not smoking
    • Regular aerobic activity

    Sometimes lifestyle modifications alone are enough to control blood pressure, but most patients in these high-risk groups need additional support, usually in the form of medication. We also must rule out or treat other conditions that affect their health and high blood pressure, such as obstructive sleep apnea, or when someone doesn’t get enough oxygen when they sleep, as sleep apnea and blood pressure are known to go hand-in-hand. Additionally, some patients have a condition called resistant hypertension, or when blood pressure is difficult to control, and should speak with a doctor about the surgeries that can treat it.

    Not treating high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as strokes, heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure, kidney problems, and even death. These conditions generally develop over time, which is why hypertension is referred to as “the silent killer.” However, with continued monitoring and expert care, hypertension can be controlled—or even reversed, in some cases.

    A success story

    I’ll never forget a patient I met several years ago. She was a middle-aged woman who was morbidly obese, sedentary, and dealing with high blood pressure that wouldn’t go down, even though she was taking three or four medications. After we adjusted some of her medications and saw no results, I sat down with her during a follow-up visit and encouraged her to start moving more. She started walking for about two minutes a day, then five minutes a day, and eventually worked her way up to about 30 minutes a day.

    To my astonishment, she lost 50 pounds by the time I saw her for a six-month follow-up visit—just by walking! Additionally, she started following the DASH diet. As time went on, she joined a gym and lost another 50 pounds. Her blood pressure improved so much that we stopped prescribing most of her medications. Today, she’s still thriving, and she’s eager to share her story with anyone who will listen. In fact, she created a poster that shows a before and after photo of herself during her 100-pound weight loss journey.

    Controlling blood pressure is an essential part of health. As new guidelines have lowered the target rate for what is considered hypertension, we must take proactive steps to prevent and maintain healthy blood pressure levels—especially when we are considered at a higher risk.

    To request an appointment with one of our cardiologists, call 202-877-3627 or click below to request an appointment.

    Request an Appointment

  • November 14, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) is a way of looking at the average blood sugar levels over the preceding two to three months in people living with diabetes. And the American College of Physicians has published a new recommendation suggesting that some people with type 2 diabetes can safely raise their A1C level.

    The update suggests the 29.1 million Americans with diabetes should aim for an A1C between 7 and 8 percent, an increase from the 6.5 to 7 percent that national guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommend.

    This change has come with critics, though, including myself. The ADA, AACE and the Endocrine Society have published statements challenging a broad relaxation the A1C target. I strongly agree with these national organizations, which are the voice of doctors who are specialists in treating diabetes. If a person’s blood sugar levels, as reflected in their A1C, are too high, they could be at increased risk over many years for:

    • Heart attack
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Kidney failure
    • Leg amputation from infection
    • Stroke
    • Vision loss

    Evidence shows that controlling your A1C to no greater than 7 percent lowers your risk for these diabetes-related complications. So, if the new guidelines are too loose, what targets for diabetes control are best for people with type 2 diabetes? And how can we make it easier for people to achieve their goal?

    What’s a safe A1C for me?

    Every person living with type 2 diabetes should have their own targets for blood sugar levels and A1C. You should speak with a doctor about what targets are best for you. During your visit, many things are taken into consideration including:

    • How many diabetes medications you are taking
    • Your age
    • Your physical activity levels
    • Whether you already have any diabetes complications

    Generally, if you haven’t had diabetes for many years and you either have no, or very few, diabetes complications, you should aim for an A1C under 7 percent. However, people who are 65 years or older, have had trouble with severe low blood sugar reactions, or have had advanced diabetes complications might benefit from a more relaxed target A1C closer to 8.

    Tips for managing your blood sugar and A1C levels

    1. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator about new ways to monitor and treat diabetes

    Checking your own blood sugar levels with a fingerstick is becoming easier, as researchers continue to develop new ways to do so. Some of the latest innovations include:

    • The FreeStyle Libre: This is the first blood glucose meter that can read your blood sugar levels by waving the meter over an adhesive patch that sticks to your arm, rather than pricking your finger to get a drop of blood. This device records your blood sugar level every five minutes and shows you a graph of the results on its screen.
    • New medications: Several new classes of medications have come out relatively recently and can help people with type 2 diabetes maintain their target blood sugar levels. Some of these newer medications also provide protection against cardiovascular and kidney complications that can arise because of diabetes.

    1. Make sure you receive diabetes self-care education from a certified diabetes educator

    Many health care organizations offer diabetes education, which your doctor can refer you to and is covered by most insurance plans.  Diabetes education is recommended when you are first diagnosed with diabetes, before and during pregnancy with diabetes, and any time your blood sugars are poorly controlled. People who receive diabetes education learn important information, such as lifestyle and medication tips, which helps them successfully take control of their diabetes.

    Anyone in the MedStar Health system can access the MedStar Diabetes Institute’s Diabetes Self-Management Education program through their own primary care provider. Furthermore, people with type 2 diabetes and an A1C of 9 percent or higher, can participate in our three-month Diabetes “Boot Camp” upon a referral from your provider, which helps patients lower their A1C by an average of 3 percent. Protocol for the program can be found here.

    For those with type 2 diabetes, have you spoken with your doctor about your specific average blood sugar level goal?

    Tell us about your experience on Facebook using the #LiveWellHealthy hashtag.