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I'm diabetic - can I be a blood donor?

This is a question frequently asked, and in most cases, the answer is “Yes, you may donate blood.” The criteria that the American Red Cross uses to determine if a diabetic may donate is as follows:
  1. If you are regulated and blood sugars are stabilized by diet or oral medication, you are eligible to donate.
  2. If you are insulin dependent, you must wait two weeks from beginning a prescribed Protocol of subcutaneous insulin.
  3. There is no problem giving if you are on an insulin pump.
  4. You must be at least 17 years of age with no upper age limit. You must also be at least 110 lbs.

In addition, if you adjust your insulin according to your blood sugar (i.e., you are changing the amount of insulin based on a morning and evening blood sugar) it is best that you do not donate. Donating a pint of blood can perhaps cause you problems as it could change your blood sugar levels. If you take the same amount of insulin on a daily basis, and are stabilized, you should be fine to donate blood.
If you have further questions, please contact the American Red Cross at (800)813-8111.

My doctor wants me to start taking insulin shots. Does that mean that my diabetes has gotten worse?

Not necessarily. Your doctor may be trying to improve your glucose levels closer to normal than in the past. It may also be a result of your body changing as part of the aging process. Medications that worked when you were younger, may not be as effective now. Remember, the purpose of diabetes medications is to assist your body in reaching glucose levels as near to normal levels as reasonable.
Ideally near normal levels could be accomplished by using a healthy meal plan and improving physical activity, but many people with type 2 diabetes will need to take medication. There are many oral medications for diabetes, but for some, insulin is a better answer. Insulin is a hormone that is normally produced by the pancreas. So although the oral medications may seem easier to take, they may cause side effects that you cannot handle or may not mix with other medications that you take.
Diabetes care has changed over the last several years. In the past, the person with diabetes tried to change their lifestyle and activities to match the insulin they were taking; this made taking insulin very challenging. When using the newer insulins, the goal is to match the insulin to the activities and lifestyle of the person with diabetes. The devices used to take insulin have also improved. You can choose to take insulin by the traditional syringe method, or by the more convenient insulin pens. Pumps are available to those who need to closely fine-tune their insulin regimen.
The actual needles used have also improved. Today the needles used for syringes, insulin pens and lancets for blood testing are sharper and thinner, which many users describe as painless.
Add to the above information that as we learn more and more about diabetes, we better understand the advantages of tighter control. Reaching a goal of an A1c less than 7% is possible, resulting in a decrease in complications and an increase in quality of life. You feel better. A few weeks after starting insulin most people with diabetes will say that they feel so much better that they wished they had started it earlier. When your doctor recommends insulin, don’t be afraid to ask why. The answer will most likely be to improve your blood glucose levels and to help you feel better.  If you have further questions on insulin or on diabetes care, ask you doctor to refer you to a certified diabetes educator.

This information was brought to you by LuAnne Kraus RN, CDE

Which is Better: Sugar Free vs Fat Free Products?

(What a conundrum!)

Let's start with some definitions:
When a food is labeled sugar free it means that there is no table sugar added. It does NOT mean that there is no other forms of sugar, such as fruit sugar, (fructose), milk sugar, (lactose), or alcohol sugars (mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol). It also does not mean it is carbohydrate free or lower in calories. If there is alcohol sugars, this can cause diarrhea, if eaten in excess. The one health advantage to sugar free products is some may be less likely to cause tooth decay.
When a food is labeled fat free that means the food has < .5 grams of fat/serving. This would make the food lower in calories. However, other ingredients may be added to enhance the flavor lost by the fat, such as high fructose corn syrup, and/or more sodium. Salad dressings is a perfect example. If you switch from a regular salad dressing to a fat free, you will find you are probably pouring on high fructose corn syrup and more salt on your salad. You may be better off nutritionally speaking, using a small amount of the regular dressing, such as a vinaigrette, that may provide your diet with some healthy fat without the added sugar and sodium. Also, you may not be saving any calories because many of the fat free salad dressings, such as Ranch or French, have the same amount of calories as the regular salad dressings.
Keep in mind, good nutrition is eating more whole plant foods and less processed foods. Most foods that are fat free or sugar free are processed. Take the time to cook or bake from scratch. You will eat healthier and not worry about the confusion with food labels.

Jeanette Waite, MS, RD, CDE
Mercy Health Diabetes Program Coordinator

I don't like to floss my teeth, so I don't do it as often as they say you should. Is it really that important?

We all know the importance of diet and exercise for better health, but you don’t constantly hear the importance of flossing.
The purpose of brushing and flossing is to reduce the number of bacteria which inhabits our mouths. These bacteria produce acids which eat into tooth enamel causing cavities. They also pour out sulfur compounds creating bad breath.
Brushing removes the plaque on your teeth and the bacteria the plaque contains. Flossing removes the bacteria hiding in between teeth that brushing doesn’t get. If you allow this plaque to remain it hardens into tartar, which only a dentist can remove. With tartar build up you get dangerous bacteria build up and toxins which irritate and inflame gums, (known as gingivitis) which can lead to periodontal disease. This disease affects the gums and also the bones and structures supporting the teeth.
Interestingly, research has linked unhealthy gums with risks of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The theory is that the bacteria that cause inflammation of your gums may enter the bloodstream through capillaries in your gums eventually inflaming heart tissue and blood vessels. Individuals with periodontal disease are 2 xs more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those with good oral hygiene.
Most dentists will tell you “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”. Diabetes is known to increase susceptibility to all types of infections. Periodontal disease can make blood sugar levels more difficult to control.
So make brushing and flossing part of your daily routine. Eat a healthy diet, not high in fats (too much fat can affect your body’s ability to repair damaged tissue). Exercise regularly which helps to keep your cholesterol down. And get regular dental check up’s. Not only will you reduce your chances of periodontal disease, but also boost your heart health.

Why is safe drug disposal so important?

Medication can play a vital role in treating certain conditions and diseases, but they must be taken with caution and only for the duration instructed by the physician. If there are unused portions of medication, it must be disposed of properly to avoid harm to people, pets and the environment.
Safe and proper disposal will lessen the risk of people consuming or handling medications inappropriately or illegally and will prevent medication from entering the water supply and harming aquatic life.
When was the last time you checked your medicine cabinet? Do you have old and expired prescriptions or some over the counter medication lying around? Maybe a medication you are no longer taking anymore or that has expired years ago? The expiration date is the date the manufacturer can guarantee the effectiveness of the product. No doubt if you have something that has expired you probably aren’t using it anyway and the potential for the effectiveness of that product to decrease overtime is there.
So if your cabinets are cluttered with a mix-match of drugs, check them all and properly dispose of the ones you are no longer taking or have expired to the point where you question their potency. If you have questions you can always ask your doctor.
Don’t keep drugs around for potential misuse. Consider all options for a safe and environmentally friendly disposal of unused medications.

What to bring and where to bring it.

What should I bring?

- Prescription Drugs and Narcotics
- Over the counter medicine like ibuprofen
- Medication samples, ointments, and lotions
- Inhalers
- Vitamins
- Even pet medication!
- Sharps (keep in a sealed and safe container)

What should I leave at home?

- Sunscreen and skin, or personal care products
- Anything containing body fluid or blood!
- Household Hazardous waste (paint, oil, gas)
- Aerosol Cans
- Insect repellents
- Anything that you can throw away in your own garbage

Where to bring your expired or unused non-controlled and over the counter substances:

Check out this web-site: for special 1 day collection of unused medications and sharps containers at local fire departments.
Benson’s Drug SavMor #17*
961 Spring Street
Muskegon, MI 49442

Muskegon Family Care
2201 Getty Street
Muskegon, MI  49444
(231)193-9315 x1643
Glenside Pharmacy
1663 W. Sherman Boulevard
Muskegon, MI 49441

Hackley Professional Pharmacy*
1675 Leahy Street, Suite 111
Muskegon, MI 49442 

Lakes Campus Pharmacy
6401 Prairie Street, Suite 1100
Muskegon, MI 49444 
Westshore Professional Pharmacy
1150 E. Sherman Boulevard, Suite 1400
Muskegon, MI 49444 

Wolf Lake Pharmacy
5483 E. Apple Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49442 
*Sharps (items like needles, lancets, etc.) will also now be accepted in a proper sharps container at the Benson’s Drug Savmor #17 and the Hackley Professional Pharmacies ONLY
Where to bring your expired or unused controlled substances:
Fruitport Police Department
5825 Airline Rd
Fruitport, MI 49415

Montague Police Department
8778 Ferry St
Montague, MI 49437

Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office Records
25 W Walton Ave
Muskegon, MI 49440

Muskegon County Sheriff Road Patrol Offices
1611 Oak Ave
Muskegon, MI 49442
Muskegon Heights Police Department
2715 Baker St
Muskegon Hts, MI 49444

Muskegon Police Department
980 Jefferson St
Muskegon, MI 49440

Muskegon Township Police Department
1990 Apple Ave
Muskegon, MI 49442

North Muskegon Police Department
1114 Ruddiman Dr
N. Muskegon, MI 49445
Norton Shores Police Department
4814 Henry St
Norton Shores, MI 49441

Roosevelt Park Police Department
900 Oak Ridge Rd
Muskegon, MI 49441

Whitehall Police Department
405 E. Colby St.
Whitehall, MI 49461
Controlled Medication Drop Box Program
Muskegon County residents now have access to an expanded disposal options offering safe, convenient collection and environmentally responsible disposal of controlled medications.
Residents may dispose of their unwanted or expired controlled medications to in secure drop-boxes at the following law enforcement agencies during normal business hours.