Structured Training Program Helps Diabetics Keep Blood Sugar in Control
If you'd like to discuss different ways to control diabetes, go to WebMD's Diabetes board moderated by Gloria Yee, RN, CDE. continued...
"This is not a quick fix; it's not easy," says Clarke about BGAT. "... This is not the McDonald's of improving glucose control. ... In order for it to be effective, you have to take the eight-week program, and there is homework that has to be done throughout the week. Without doing those sorts of things, you can't really improve your own awareness [of your blood glucose levels]. But once you've improved that awareness, it's something that seems to carry over for a long period of time."
Lois Exelbert, RN, MS, CDE, is a diabetes nurse educator. They use BGAT at the Diabetes Education Center at Baptist Hospital of Miami, where she is administrative director. She says it is extremely effective for helping individuals with diabetes recognize when their sugar levels are off, so they can fix the problem immediately in the short term and make changes to diet, exercise, and/or medication in order to prevent these ups and downs in the long term. Importantly, the program also teaches crucial safety strategies such as not getting behind the wheel of a car unless you've checked your blood sugar levels.
"The misconception is that everybody with diabetes is going to be subject to passing out from low blood sugar and just expect it," she says. "But not everybody has to have low blood sugar where they're passing out. ... It 's not an automatic function of having diabetes, and there's absolutely ways to prevent it."
One of Exelbert's patients, who prefers that her name not be used, has had type 1 diabetes for 27 years. She took the BGAT program in 1997 because she found, like many people who have had type 1 diabetes for several years, that she no longer experienced the obvious signs of low blood sugar, such as sweating and tremor. She found that the program was well worth the considerable effort and time required and recommends it to anyone interested in better understanding their disease and preventing long-term complications.
"It was very intense," she says about the program, "... but it worked for me because now I know when I'm going into a low [blood sugar state] by reactions my body is giving me now. ... I always talk about to people that I meet [with diabetes] who have had some bouts with 911 calls because this might help them learn about themselves before they get to that 911 call [state]. ... There was so much information in the program that I never knew [even] after having diabetes for such a long time."
Endocrinologist Philip A. Levin, MD, director of The Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., says the difference between this and other training programs for handling diabetes is that it is far more organized and structured. More and more data like this study is emerging to demonstrate that such a structured program does help people control their blood sugar.