Diabetes comes in all shapes and sizes — like many other diseases it isn’t one to discriminate. According to the Discover Diabetes Study, 1 in 11 people are living with diabetes right now. Even some of the healthiest people are diabetic; in fact, diabetics are often the most in-tune with their bodies. Some of the characteristics of diabetes might even surprise you.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin (T1D), or the body cannot live off the insulin that it does create (T2D). Insulin, the hormone made by the pancreas, helps the glucose in your blood to be used for energy. Thus, diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose level (or blood sugar level) is higher than it should be. As a result of high blood sugar a person may experience the following symptoms;

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss

How does one develop diabetes?

There are number causes that lead to a person developing diabetes. The different types of diabetes are determined by how the disease is developed. For example, Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is often trigged genetically, or by environmental factors like viruses – where Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is most often developed as a result of high blood pressure by those who are overweight or obese due to lack of physical activity.

Now that’s we’ve addressed the different types of diabetes let’s look a little closer.

The most common types of diabetes are T1D, T2D, gestational, and pre-diabetes.

T1D – this type of diabetes can develop at any age but is most frequently developed in children and adolescent adults. Daily insulin injections and constant monitoring are required for those who have T1D.

T2D – this type of diabetes is most common in adults. This type of diabetes is most often a result of weight and treatment plans often focus on improving aspects of one’s lifestyle specifically diet and exercise. Overtime this type of diabetes will require treatment in the shape of oral drugs or insulin injections to control glucose levels.

Pre-diabetes – Pre-diabetes is a condition in which someone has higher than “normal” blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetes often progresses to T2D if not treated once addressed. Thankfully, pre-diabetes isn’t always a predecessor for T2D if appropriate action is taken. Simple lifestyle changes can be extremely helpful in reducing one’s likelihood of progression to T2D.

Gestational – (GDM) is a type of diabetes in which a woman experiences high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This can result in complications for both the mother and child. It must be monitored throughout the pregnancy and all women are tested early on to determine if they have it or not. As a result of gestational diabetes, the child has a higher risk of developing T2D later in life.

Ways to reduce your risk of developing diabetes

Like many other diseases and injuries your risk of diabetes decreases as you work to improve your diet and exercise regimen. We recommend exercising a minimum of 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Keep in mind that simple and gradual changes often help make the biggest changes. Things like parking your car further away and adding more vegetables to your lunch and dinner plans are great ways to get started. There are also lots of great tools like mobile applications to help you track your activity and exercise along with your food intake. Smart scales are also great tools for measuring and understanding your body’s makeup of muscle, fat, bone and more.









We often associate growing older with increased responsibility and independence, however, for those who are elderly growing older can often result in a loss of independence. Depending on the person and their healthcare needs they may be moved to a Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, hospitalized, or introduced to home care.

What is Home Care?

Home care is a preventative type of care for people (often the elderly) that allows them to live at home and maintain their sense of independence while receiving the help they need to maintain their healthcare needs. This type of care would often follow a recent change in a medical condition or hospitalization. A person’s home is often the best healing environment as it is the place where they are the most comfortable. In fact, sometimes the stress of being hospitalized can increase the time it takes one to heal.

Home care is personal. One primarily beneficial aspect of home care is the relationship that patients develop with their caregiver. Caregivers visit with their patients regularly to assess their condition, provide prescribed treatments and educate on their disease process. The regularity of visits helps caregivers to stay up-to-date on their patients and how they are progressing. This relationship and consistency helps patients to avoid explaining their situation to a set of unfamiliar doctors or nurses each time they have an issue. Instead, their caregiver is able to address the situation with a full historic knowledge of the patient.

What to expect from home care

A doctor’s referral is needed to begin home care services. Once referred, the patient will likely meet with a care clinician (Nurse or Therapist) to assess their specific needs.  The caregiver may offer the following assistance:

  • Coordinate care with your primary care doctor ensuring communication is clear and frequent.
  • Address your food and drinking habits – refer to a home food delivery service, like meals on wheels, if needed.
  • Regularly monitor your vital signs like blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing and other symptoms related to chronic disease processes.
  • Assist with medication management and education as needed.
  • Inspect home for safety concerns, and address them as needed.
  • Evaluate for any pain.
  • Teach and communicate care plan to help patients feel more independent and in control of their health.

The goals of home care are simple — treating an illness or injury to help you regain your independence and be as self-sufficient as possible, all while helping  heal, and maintain or slow one’s decline of functionality.

In addition to the previously addressed expectations you might be interested in knowing that a home care clinician will likely possess the following capabilities, such as:

  • Monitoring your health status
  • Home Infusion Therapy
  • Specialized wound care
  • Injections
  • Nutrition management
  • Orthopedic care
  • Post-surgical care

Home care isn’t beneficial without a good home care professional

The benefits of home care are priceless. The cost savings, faster recovery and healing, and the independence gained from being cared for in your own home allow you to be around family and friends more regularly than if you were to be hospitalized.

The biggest benefit of home care is having a healthcare professional in your circle. They know you, your health, and what you need to heal.

If you’re interested in learning more about home care services consult your doctor.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs that are designed to kill or slow the growth of bacteria. When used improperly bacteria develop and become resistant to antibiotics used to treat them. According to the CDC over 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and of those over 23,000 die.

Antibiotics aren’t always needed.  But how do you know when they are and when they aren’t? If you are going to see your doctor with the mindset that an antibiotic is the cure-all for your illness you’re only hurting yourself. While you think it might be a good idea to research a potential diagnosis considering your symptoms – it’s best to leave it to a professional. When you visit with your primary care provider you should outline all of your symptoms, and your PCP will conduct the necessary tests to determine an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you go into your PCP’s office asking for an antibiotic and they oblige when an antibiotic won’t improve your symptoms it is only entering your system and allowing the bacteria within your system to build up immunity to it – so that when you are prescribed one and actually need it – it can’t do its job.

Use the chart below to help you determine if an antibiotic will help you, or if a little time and rest will do the trick!

Only about one percent of America’s population is diagnosed with a gluten-related illness, yet nearly a third of the population would prefer to reduce or avoid gluten.

Multiple factors have contributed to the spike of gluten-free diets (GFD), including media coverage, aggressive consumer-directed marketing, and official reports regarding the benefits of gluten avoidance, such as improvement of other health-related symptoms.

Many Americans believe that gluten itself is unhealthy, but this is not the case. Furthermore, evidence suggests that a GFD puts your health at risk.

Only those with celiac disease and other diagnosed gluten intolerances require gluten avoidance. If you’re unconvinced and insist on adopting a GFD, consider the following facts to make an informed decision about modifying your diet.

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Whole grain foods such as bread products, pasta, and breakfast cereals are often enriched and therefore contribute substantial amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals to the diets of Americans.

Most refined, gluten-free breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals are neither enriched nor fortified, making it difficult to get these important nutrients.

People with celiac disease on a strict gluten-free diet were found to have inadequate intakes of fiber, iron and calcium.  The Harvard school of public health states that, “an overreliance on processed gluten-free products may lead to a decreased intake of certain nutrients like fiber and B vitamins that are protective against chronic diseases.”

To balance the nutrients lost from giving up gluten, choose nutrient-rich gluten-free foods, such as fruits, vegetables and gluten-free whole grains rather than packaged, processed gluten-free options.

A consultation with one of Mohawk Valley Health System’s nutrition specialists can help you maintain wellness on a GFD.

Conditions with Potential Benefits from a GFD

Potential Risks of a GFD

Gluten-sensitive irritable bowel syndrome

Deficiencies of micronutrients and fiber

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

Increases in fat content of foods

Schizophrenia or other mental health conditions





Coronary artery disease




2. Weight Gain

Many Americans mistakenly assume that gluten free snacks are a healthier alternative to gluten-containing snacks, but some processed gluten-free products are higher in fat, sugar and calories and can lead to weight gain.

Additionally, those who do have gluten intolerances may experience improved absorption of nutrients, a reduction in stomach discomfort, and increased appetite after starting the diet, which contributes to weight gain.

Instead of gluten-free cookies or cakes, choose fruit-based desserts, such as yogurt parfaits. Choose low fat protein sources such as lean meat, poultry without the skin, fish and other seafood. Opt for low fat or skim milk, low fat cheeses, low fat or fat-free yogurt, and sherbet or sorbet instead of full-fat ice cream.

3. Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Many studies have found that people with higher intakes of whole grains compared with groups eating less had a significantly lower risk of heart disease.

A study of over 100,000 participants without celiac disease found that those who restricted gluten intake experienced an increased risk of heart disease compared with those who had higher gluten intake.

Furthermore, the British Medical Journal concluded that “long term dietary intake of gluten was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. However, the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”


Although a GFD may help to alleviate symptoms in various conditions related to gluten sensitivity, the potential risks can outweigh the potential benefits. Current evidence shows that a GFD has no health benefits for those unaffected by celiac disease.

To be sure, always consult with your doctor before making dramatic changes to your diet. 















It’s that time of the year for heart attacks due to the flu and snow shoveling. Strain on the heart can come from physical activity or illness.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there is a significant association between respiratory infections, especially influenza and heart attacks. 

What you can do:

  • Get your flu shot
  • Avoid sick people
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep hydrated
  • Get plenty of rest.

A study by the National Institute of Health showed a significant link between the amount of snow, length of the storm and admissions for chest pain and heart attack. 

What you can do:

  • Take frequent breaks
  • Keep hydrated
  • Listen to your body
  • Hire someone
  • Get permission from your provider.

If at any time you feel chest pain, stop the activity. Heart attack symptoms can be chest pain, pressure or a squeezing feeling that can travel to your arms, neck, jaw and/or back. Also look for sweating, nausea or shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms, do NOT delay! Call 911 and request to be taken to the St. Elizabeth Campus of the Mohawk Valley Health System.



Hand hygiene isn’t just a common courtesy when leaving a bathroom or preparing food, it’s a vital step in stopping the spread of common viruses and bacteria which lead to many illnesses.

When to wash?

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

The best handwashing technique:

With soap:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and then apply soap
  2. Rub your hands together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself from beginning to end twice will take right around 20 seconds!
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel.

* If soap and water are unavailable, we recommend using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

With hand sanitizer:

  1. Apply the foam or gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount)
  2. Rub your hands together
  3. Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. Be sure to get the backs of your hands as well. This should take around 20 seconds.

Do your part in keeping the community healthy and wash regularly, and thoroughly. When in doubt – wash again!