Diabetes care is a commitment to yourself. Consider these 10 approaches to control diabetes complications. Diabetes is a serious disease. Following your diabetes treatment strategy takes around-the-clock commitment. But your efforts are worthwhile. Cautious diabetes care can lower your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications. Here are top 10 methods to take an active role in your diabetes care and enjoy a healthier future.
1. Commit to controlling your diabetesMembers of your diabetes care team — for example, primary care provider, diabetes care and education professional , and dietitian, — can assist you in learning the basics of diabetes care and deliver support along the way. But it’s up to you to handle your condition. Learn all you can about diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your everyday routine. Maintain a healthy weight. Monitor your blood sugar, and follow your health care provider’s instructions for controlling your blood sugar level. Have your medicines as told by your health care provider. Ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you require it.
2. Don’t smokeAvoid smoking or quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking raises your risk of type 2 diabetes and the risk of different diabetes complications, including:
- Reduced blood flow in the legs and feet, which can direct to infections, nonhealing ulcers, and possible amputation
- Eye disease, which can lead to blindness
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
- Worse blood sugar control
- Heart disease
- Sudden death
3. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in controlLike diabetes, high blood pressure can harm your blood vessels. High cholesterol is a problem, too, since the resulting damage is often worse and faster when you have diabetes. When these conditions team up, they can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening conditions. Eating a healthy, reduced-fat, and low salt diet, avoiding excess alcohol, and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Your health care provider may also recommend taking prescription medication if required.
4. Plan routine physicals and eye examsPlan two to four diabetes checkups a year, along with your yearly physical and routine eye exams. During the physical examination, your health care provider will ask about your nutrition and activity levels and look for any diabetes-related difficulties — including signs of kidney damage, nerve damage, and heart disease — as well as screen for other medical issues. They will also inspect your feet for any issues that may need treatment. Your eye care specialist will check for symptoms of retinal damage, cataracts, and glaucoma.
5. Keep your vaccines up to dateDiabetes raises your risk of getting certain illnesses. Routine vaccines can help stop them. Ask your health care provider about:
- Flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccine can help you remain healthy during flu season as well as control serious complications from the flu.
- Pneumonia vaccine. Occasionally the pneumonia vaccine needs only one shot. If you have diabetes complications or you’re age 65 or older, you may require a booster shot.
- Hepatitis B vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for adults with diabetes who haven’t once received the vaccine and are younger than 60. If you’re age 60 or older and have never received the hepatitis B vaccine, talk to your health care provider about whether it’s right for you.
- Other vaccines. Stay up to date with your tetanus shot (usually given every 10 years). Your doctor may suggest other vaccines as well.
6. Take care of your teethDiabetes may leave you prone to gum infections. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss your teeth once a day and schedule dental exams at least twice a year. Call your dentist if your gums bleed or look red or swollen.
7. Pay attention to your feetHigh blood sugar can decrease blood flow and harm the nerves in your feet. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can lead to serious infections. Diabetes can lead to pain, tingling, or loss of sensation in your feet. To prevent foot problems:
- Wash your feet every day in lukewarm water. Avoid soaking your feet, as this can lead to dry skin.
- Dry your feet gently, mainly between the toes.
- Moisturize your feet and ankles with lotion or petroleum jelly. Do not put oils or creams between your toes — the extra moisture can lead to infection.
- Check your feet daily for calluses, blisters, sores, redness, or swelling.
- Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn’t begin to heal within a few days. If you have a foot ulcer — an open sore — see your doctor right away.
- Don’t go barefoot, indoors or outdoors.