It is important to learn as much as you can about proper self-management when you have diabetes. With the right care and treatment, you can live a full and healthy life. Consider 6 important do’s and don’ts for people with diabetes.
- Do learn all the facts about diabetes and how to manage it. Talk to your doctor about diabetes. Schedule sessions with a diabetes educator and dietitian to get the facts. Maintain regular appointments with related physicians such as a dentist, podiatrist and cardiologist. People with diabetes are prone to gum disease, foot conditions and high blood pressure. Invest in diabetic equipment including a blood glucose monitor, home blood pressure monitor and diabetic shoes that fit properly. Check your feet for sores, blisters or irritation every night. Ask questions and keep accurate records of your blood glucose levels to share at every medical appointment.
- Do watch portion sizes and count carbohydrates as well as maintain an active lifestyle. While you might already be cautious about sweets and desserts with sugar, also count all carbohydrates. Remember the body transforms carbohydrates into glucose in your bloodstream. Watch portion sizes to avoid gaining weight and try to maintain a stable weight. If you are overweight, losing just five pounds can make a big difference. Have an active lifestyle that includes regular exercise such as walking, stretching and lifting weights. Make sure to exercise at least a half hour a day, five days a week for optimum health. Lower your salt intake to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
- Do get familiarized with your equipment and medications. People with diabetes often have equipment and medications to get used to. Get correct detailed instructions for usage and dosage requirements. Know when to test your blood glucose and the right time to take your medication. Follow directions to the letter to avoid blood sugar spikes or other problems.
- Don’t avoid changes or traveling. Be aware of your body’s changes and how to minimize their impact. For example, stress can raise blood sugar levels. Try reducing stress with yoga, tai chi or deep breathing exercises. Adjust your treatment during menstruation to accommodate hormonal fluctuations that may affect blood sugar levels. Feel free to travel with a bit of proper planning. Talk to your doctor about portable supplies, time changes and adjusting your insulin and medications accordingly. Keep supplies and medications in your carry-on luggage so you always have them on hand and they don’t go through drastic temperature changes.
- Learn to feel less afraid of using needles. Many people with diabetes must inject insulin and test their blood sugar. Learn to be less afraid of needles, which are actually part of keeping you healthy. If you inject insulin, use fatty tissue without many nerve endings such as the back upper arm or belly so treatment isn’t painful. Before glucose testing, wash your hands with warm water and soap to soften the skin and dry completely to get blood flowing to the fingertip. The prick should only feel like a light pinch.
- Don’t feel alone or discouraged. Enlist the assistance of your diabetes health care team, friends and family so you do not feel alone. Find a support group at your local hospital or community center for additional support. Find a therapist if you are having trouble coping. Remember many people effectively manage diabetes and you can do it, too. Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to maintain health blood sugar levels and relieve stress.
Keeping track of these simple do’s and don’ts helps improve the quality of your daily life. Diabetes does not have to hold you back if you manage it properly. Communicate with your health care providers and take good care of yourself at all times.