Recently researchers discovered the number of people with diabetes is expected to nearly double in the next decade. The cost of future healthcare for diabetes is also expected to more than double. An approach that includes prevention and effective self-management can reduce or even eliminate the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
- In the past, many people with diabetes went undiagnosed for years. In the future, doctors will test for type 2 diabetes when risks exist. Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, race and being overweight. People who are inactive or have belly fat could be at a higher risk. The risk also increases for people over 45. Warning conditions include pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women. Doctors are encouraged to test high risk patients on a regular basis. If you feel you are at risk, ask your doctor about taking a blood test for diabetes. Knowing about the condition helps you take control of your health sooner. Through diet and exercise, you might be able to avoid the need to take insulin or medication.
- Government research revealed patients do not have enough knowledge about diabetes or how to self-manage the condition. Doctors are offering educational materials including consultations, brochures and access to informational websites. Rather than working with one doctor who might have limited time, patients are encouraged to work with a diabetes care team including nutritionists, nurse educators and counselors. Both doctors and patients need to be responsible for the proper care and treatment of diabetes. If you are displeased with your current physician, get a second opinion.
- It is crucial to make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Learn about diabetes and ask your treatment team for help. Follow your doctor’s instructions for keeping your blood sugar in the target range. Monitor your blood sugar regularly and record the results. Report any extreme highs or lows to your doctor right away. Keep extra diabetes supplies on hand so you never run out. Maintain a healthy weight to ward off health complications such as obesity and heart disease.
- Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control to avoid damaged blood vessels, heart disease and stroke. Exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week to control cholesterol and high blood pressure. Avoid fried foods, salty snacks and sugary treats. Eat a healthy diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day.
- Try to kick bad habits. Don’t smoke as it increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease as well as nerve damage. Consume alcohol in moderation. This means one serving per day for women and two servings for men under age 65. A serving is 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1 ½ ounces of hard liquor.
- Keep up with your physical examinations. Schedule a routine physical every year. Take off your shoes and socks to get your feet checked. Examine your feet daily for cuts, sores, swelling or blisters. If they don’t heal quickly then contact your doctor. Visit an eye care specialist annually to get checked for signs of glaucoma, retinal damage and cataracts. Maintain good oral hygiene by visiting a dentist regularly for checkups and routine cleanings. If your gums look swollen or bleed, contact your dentist right away. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date including shingles shot, Hepatitis B, flu and pneumonia vaccines.
- Many doctors are encouraging prevention over cure. Some recommend taking a daily aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke; check with your physician before you begin taking an aspirin. Doctors are also encouraging patients to reduce chronic stress. To minimize stress people need to get plenty of sleep, eat properly and exercise regularly. Patients with ongoing stress can talk to a doctor or counselor to get help.
The future of healthcare and diabetes is bright now that doctors and patients are working together more closely. The key is to prevent diabetes or address the symptoms immediately through effective self-management. With the right care and treatment, we can reduce the projected number of people who get diabetes in the future.