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Safety Tips

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Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the

In order to determine whether or not a patient has pre-diabetes or diabetes, health care providers conduct a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Either test can be used to diagnose pre-diabetes or diabetes.

There are two major types of diabetes- type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.

Diabetes neuropathy is a common concern for people living with diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs in people with diabetes. People with this can have numbness, tingling, or pain in different parts of their body. Most often, the nerves and skin of the feet are affected, but areas of skin, blood vessels, and the heart, bowel, or bladder can be affected.

Diabetic neuropathy can be caused by blood sugar levels that are too high, because this damages blood vessels and nerves. It can be prevented by treating the patients diabetes. To do so, a patient should:
- learn as much as they can about diabetes and how to control the disease by working with their doctor.
- learn how a healthy diet and exercise can lower blood sugar levels.
- If they have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, take medications as prescribed.
- Record how much insulin they take, what medications they take, and home blood sugar measurements

To prevent foot problems from diabetic neuropathy, patients with diabetes should check their feet and shoes often for any changes. They should take good care of their feet by washing, moisturizing, keeping toenails trimmed and wearing cotton socks. They should choose shoes carefully, and break in new shoes slowly. Finally, they should avoid things that are bad for your feet such as walking barefoot, or wearing socks with elastic band at the top.

For more information, please visit the American Diabetes Association.


Hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure is constantly higher than normal. This poses a serious health risk because it forces the heart to work extra hard. The effects of hypertension include strokes and heart attacks.

Hypertension is due to various contributing factors, such as smoking, a diet rich in fat and cholesterol, and stress. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes. The key to successfully controlling high blood pressure is to start with one thing at a time. Ask your doctor what you should change first, and remember that lifestyle changes will overlap. A hypertension diet cuts out lots of fat and salt, which leads to weight loss. Weight loss leads to more energy, which makes it easier to exercise, making it easier to lose weight.

If you have mild hypertension you may only need to make lifestyle changes and monitor your blood pressure regularly at home. For more severe hypertension, antihypertensive medication may be prescribed in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

For more information, please visit the National Institute of Health website.


Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated. It is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, or fractures, occurs typically in the hip, spine and wrist.

The key to preventing osteoporosis is building strong bones. Especially before age 30, this can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong.

Five steps to Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention
1. Get your daily recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D
2. Engage in regular weight-bearing exercises
3. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
4. Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health
5. Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate


A Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine you risk for future fracture. A BMD measure the density of your bones and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. A BMD test is accurate, painless, and noninvasive.

For more information on osteoporosis, please visits the National Osteoporosis Foundation.


Safety Tips
Prevent Falls
Have grab bars in the tub and shower.
Have bright lights over stairs and steps and on landings.
Have handrails on both sides of the stairs and steps.
Use a ladder for climbing instead of a stool or furniture.
Use baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, if babies or toddlers live in or visit your home.

Prevent Poisonings
Lock poisons, cleaners, medications and all dangerous items in a place where children
can't reach them.
Keep all cleaners in their original containers. Do not mix cleaning products together.
Use medications carefully. Follow the directions. Use child resistant lids.
 Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas.
Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if someone takes poison. This number will connect you to emergency help in your area.

Prevent Fires & Burns
Have working smoke alarms and hold fire drills. If you build a new home, install fire
Stay by the stove when cooking, especially when you are frying food.
Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
If you smoke, smoke outside. Use deep ashtrays and put water in them before you
empty them. Lock matches and lighters in a place where children can't reach them.
Only light candles when an adult is in the room. Blow the candle out if you leave the room or go to sleep.

Prevent Choking and Suffocation
Things that can fit through a toilet paper tube can cause a young child to choke. Keep coins, latex balloons, and hard round foods, such as peanuts and hard candy out of
children's reach.
Place children to bed on their backs. Don't put pillows, comforters or toys in the crib.
Clip the loops in window cords and place them up high where children can't get them.
Read the labels on all toys, especially if they have small parts. Be sure that your child is
old enough to play with them.
Tell children to sit down when they eat and to take small bites.

Be Smart Around Water
Stay within an arm's length of children in and around water. This includes bathtubs,
toilets, pools and spas- even buckets of water.
Put a fence all the way around your pool or spa.
Empty large buckets and wading pools after using them. Keep them upside down when
not in use.
Make sure your children always swim with a grownup. No child or adult should swim
Keep your hot water at or below 120 degrees F to prevent burns.

Visit the Home Safety Resource Center at to review and download free information, including posters, brochures, safety checklists and additional tips to help safeguard your family.


Helpful Links

Allegheny County Health Department

American Diabetes Association

American Heart Association

Arthritis Foundation

Center for Disease Control

Home Safety Council

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

National Cancer Institute

National Institute of Health

National Kidney Foundation

National Osteoporosis Foundation

Sight and Hearing Association

Surgeon Generals Office

UPMC Health Plan

US Food and Drug Administration