Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Manage Your Diabetes Daily

Take action every day to manage your diabetes

Diabetes can be controlled. Diabetics can feel a lot better every day when they manage their diabetes well.

Diabetes is a big problem in the Mid-South where too many people are overweight or obese.

Type 1 diabetes (when the body makes little or no insulin) usually is diagnosed in early childhood. Insulin shots replace the missing insulin.

Type 2 diabetes used to be found mostly in adults, but now more children are affected. Weight gain, especially around the abdomen, can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin as it should. Diabetes is a big concern because of its complications. Heart attacks and stroke occur when diabetes increases cholesterol, which builds up in your blood and blocks blood vessels. Diabetics are at greater risk for kidney problems.

A healthy lifestyle -- including weight control, a good diet and exercise -- can prevent or slow diabetes. Poor lifestyle behaviors can lead to diabetes. A study showed that up to 30 percent of adults who were 20 or older had a condition called pre-diabetes. As many as 90 percent of pre-diabetics do not know that they have the problem and may become diabetic. Health complications can start with pre-diabetes even before blood sugar tests are high enough for treatment.

What you should do

Manage your diabetes every day. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics need a daily plan. The best way to plan and manage your care is in partnership with your health care provider.

Set goals for better living as a diabetic. Make changes for the better. Do not smoke. Brush your teeth at least twice each day. Floss daily. Get help for any signs of gum disease, like puffy or bleeding gums. Learn ways to prevent health problems that happen more often for diabetics.

Take your prescribed medicine as instructed. Learn how any prescribed medicines and treatments can affect you. A recent study found 25 percent of diabetics must inject themselves with insulin every day. Surprisingly, 57 percent said they occasionally failed to take their shots. Students, Type 2 diabetics, patients with low income, and those who need frequent injections were more likely to skip them. Some skipped shots due to fear of pain or embarrassment.

Learn how to eat. Take a cooking course for diabetics. Get advice from a licensed nutritionist.

Find ways to cope with stress. Stress can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol. Ways to reduce stress are time with friends, exercise, meditation or writing in a journal.

Know what to do if your blood sugar is too high or too low. Teach your family how to help you as well.

Keep both blood sugar and blood pressure normal every day to reduce risks of other problems. Check your numbers regularly. Keep blood pressure below 130/80 and blood sugar (A1c) below 7 percent. In addition to your home testing, get these numbers checked by a health professional every three to six months and more often if you have a control problem.

Aim for a low-density cholesterol of 100 or less, and less than 70 mg/dL if you are at high risk. Total cholesterol should be under 200. Your triglyceride target should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Use a checklist of tests needed at your regular checkups. Get one at healthymemphis.org/ stay_healthy.php. Write down any instructions you get at your checkups, and repeat the instructions to make sure you understand them.

Ask your doctor if you should take daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease. Get flu and pneumonia shots.

Make sure that your feet are checked at your regular health checkups. A special tool can check feeling in your feet. Check your feet for wounds every day. Diabetic wounds need prompt attention and are often difficult to heal.

Get a kidney function test at least annually. Albumin is the measurement. It should be under 30 mg/24 hours.

Keep your annual appointments. See your eye doctor for a dilated eye exam. See your dentist at least two times a year. Diabetes and high blood sugar make it hard for your mouth to fight germs.

Do not assume you are okay. Get screened for diabetes if you are over 45 and have a body mass index over 25.

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