Protect Yourself with Careful Diabetes Management

Protect Yourself with Careful Diabetes Management

Everything you do to take care of yourself helps you lead a better life. And if you have diabetes, making healthy life choices and working with your doctor can help save you from bigger health problems later.

Diabetes is all about blood sugar and insulin. When blood sugar levels get out of control, it opens the door to serious diseases and organ damage throughout your body. Health issues like eye, nerve, kidney and heart problems can start happening without you knowing it. But you can lower your chance of having complications.

Careful diabetes management means keeping up with needed tests. They can save you from much bigger problems later. Work with your doctor to monitor your A1C, blood pressure, kidney function and more.

Stay on top of your:

  • Hemoglobin A1C: The A1C blood test provides an in-depth picture of how well your body has managed blood sugar over the past two to three months. High A1C levels are linked to serious health problems leaving site icon and long-term complications. Even a small improvement in your A1C level can significantly reduce your risk for complications.
  • Eye health: People with diabetes are at risk for cataracts, blurred or spotty vision, and blindness. These diabetic eye problems often have no early symptoms. That’s why it’s vital to get a diabetic retinal eye exam by an eye care professional. A digital camera can be used instead of dilation for your exam. This annual eye exam can find eye problems that lead to vision loss or blindness.
  • Kidney health: Two tests can help keep track of your kidney health. A urine test checks for proteins in your urine to see how well your kidneys are working. Protein in the urine is the first sign of kidney disease. A blood test checks for levels of waste in your blood. Testing can help you avoid or delay kidney damage, which could lead to the need for dialysis.
  • Blood flow, nerves and skin: Skin issues can range from sores and wounds that don’t heal to infections that can lead to possible amputation. The blood flow in your feet needs to be checked regularly. Your doctor will test the skin and nails for blood flow or nerve damage. And check your feet at home. Pay attention to pain, tingling or numbness in your feet, or a sore that doesn’t heal. That may signal nerve damage, also called diabetic neuropathy.
  • Blood pressure: Blood pressure is the force of the blood inside the vessels. The higher the pressure, the harder your heart has to work. Over time high blood pressure may harm the tiny vessels in your eyes, kidneys, legs and feet. High blood pressure is especially dangerous with diabetes. It raises your risk for serious complications. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so it’s important to have it checked regularly.
  • Cholesterol: High levels, either alone or along with blood flow issues, can cause heart attacks and strokes. And that risk is higher for people with diabetes. High cholesterol has no symptoms, so it’s important to have it checked regularly.
  • Dental health: Those with diabetes have a greater risk of gum disease. Take good care of your teeth and gums leaving site icon and have dental checkups every six months.
  • Mental Health: Issues like depression can get in the way of managing your diabetes and affect how you care for yourself overall. Learn the signs of depression and what can help

People with diabetes can also protect their health by making good choices leaving site icon when it comes to what they eat and how much they move, and by taking their medicine even when they feel good, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

To stay healthy while managing diabetes:

  • Take all your medicines.
  • Get all of your tests.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Stay active.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Find ways to manage stress.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

While diabetes can’t be cured, you can take steps to manage it. Working closely with your doctor can lower its impact on your health and life. Be sure to let your doctor know about any changes with your health.

A longer, better quality life is worth the effort.

Sources: Living Well with Diabetes, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022; 4 Steps to Manage Your Diabetes for Life, leaving site icon National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2016; Diabetes, Gum Disease, & Other Dental Problems, leaving site icon National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2022; About Cholesterol, leaving site icon CDC, 2023; High Blood Pressure, leaving site icon CDC, 2023