It’s been almost 8 years since Mark Helt walked into a primary care physician’s office for a checkup and walked out with a diagnosis: Type 2 diabetes.
“I was getting routine blood work and found my blood sugar was a little high,” says Helt. “I had no symptoms, so I wasn’t expecting to hear I had diabetes. From that moment, I knew I had to change my lifestyle.”
A few years after being diagnosed, Helt moved to Carroll County and started seeing Sara Loeffler, M.D., a Carroll Health Group endocrinologist. Together, they worked to find the best treatment options for him and focused on taking healthy steps toward managing his diabetes.
“When I started treating Mr. Helt, it was important that he was included in the decision making,” says Dr. Loeffler. “Explaining the diagnosis, working as a team to get it under control, and making sure he understood the importance ofliving a healthier lifestyle gave him a role in his treatment, so he could be more empowered.”
Managing Type 2 diabetes can be tricky. It’s not uncommon to, like Helt, not see any symptoms before being diagnosed.
“The vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with diabetes don’t show significant symptoms, but there are warning signs,” says Dr. Loeffler. “Increased thirst and frequent urination might indicate high blood sugar. Some of the warning signs are unexpected, such as unintentional weight loss. People think diabetes means gaining weight, but often when people are first diagnosed with diabetes they’ve actually lost a significant amount of weight. High blood sugar can even affect vision, so some people will notice that they need to get glasses or get a stronger lens prescription.”
Once diagnosed—or to prevent the disease from developing—lifestyle changes are vital.
“Diabetes, Type 2 in particular, is often a lifestyle-based disease,” says Sunil Gurung, M.D., a fellow Carroll Health Group endocrinologist. “Making healthier choices is key. Cutting out processed foods, sodas and late night snacks is a great place to start. It’s also important to exercise. At least half an hour of moderate-intensity exercise can make a huge difference to your health and is something anyone can do. It’s as easy as taking a walk at a good pace five times per week and making sure you get a good night’s sleep.”
While diabetes is often diagnosed by a primary care physician, following up with an endocrinologist is important. “Diabetes care has changed dramatically in the past couple of years with new medications and devices becoming available,” says Dr. Loeffler. “A lot of primary care physicians can effectively treat diabetes, but they may not have the in-depth knowledge of the most recent research and latest treatment options that an endocrinologist has.”
Because lifestyle and treatment go hand-in-hand for diabetes management, the endocrinologists at Carroll Health Group take special interest in getting to know their patients. Learning more about a patient’s medical history, preferences and experiences can affect the choices that the endocrinologist makes.
“You can tell that Dr. Loeffler cares,” says Helt. “She takes that extra time with me, sometimes half an hour for a visit, to make sure that all of my questions are answered and that I know what’s going on with my health. Every experience I have had with Carroll Health Group has been positive, even when the circumstances weren’t.”
“We have a great team here to work with our diabetes patients,” says Dr. Gurung. “Dr. Loeffler and I, as well as our diabetes educators, nurses and staff, are here to provide the quality care and resources that patients need—while being local and convenient.”
Now seeing patients in Westminster and Mt. Airy!
Take steps toward managing your health by talking to a Carroll Health Group endocrinologist. Visit CarrollHealthGroup.com or call 410-751-2510.