A recent diagnosis of diabetes might make you feel confused. Many people with diabetes effectively keep it under control. Consider five things you can do to get started on the road to better health.
Blood glucose monitoring. Tracking blood glucose levels benefits anyone with diabetes. There are multiple meters available; make sure you choose one that is covered by your health insurance. Wash your hands with warm soap and water and then insert a test strip into your meter. Use a lancet to get a drop of blood from the side of your fingertip, hold the test strip to the blood then read your blood glucose level on the meter display. Check with your local health department to find out how to handle used lancets and dispose of them properly.
Blood glucose before a meal should be in the target range of 80-130 mg/dl. After a meal, blood glucose should be – 150mg/dl ideally, 180 mg/dl acceptable (ADA guidelines). Testing times could include fasting in the morning, before meals, two hours after the first bite of food or bedtime. You should also test more frequently when you are sick, change medications, travel or exercise more. Document your blood glucose monitoring results in a logbook and take them to your doctor appointments. Some meters are capable of being downloaded on a computer as well.
Annual eye exam. Visit an eye care professional at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. Only optometrists and ophthalmologists can detect retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes severe damage to blood vessels in the retina and can lead to serious vision loss or even blindness without symptoms.
Foot exams. People with diabetes are more prone to having foot problems leading to infections and possible amputation. Your health care provider should check your feet at least once a year with a monofilament. If you have foot problems, see a podiatrist. Always remove your shoes and socks to get your feet checked when you visit the doctor, endocrinologist or internist.
A monofilament exam is done with closed eyes as the doctor painlessly pokes areas of your feet to see if you feel it. A tuning fork is used to test for temperature sensation in your feet. Doppler ultrasound studies are done to evaluate the flow of blood through the blood vessels. It is important to take proper care of your feet and never go barefoot, even in the pool. Protect feet with non-binding diabetic socks that do not restrict circulation.
Exercise. Lower blood sugar and boost health by exercising at least 150 minutes divided up over 5 days. Combine weight or resistance training, aerobics, stretching and balance exercises. Swimming or walking in the pool is beneficial for those with bone problems, balance issues or arthritis. People at all fitness levels can walk daily and wear pedometers to measure step progress.
Dental exam. People with diabetes are more prone to periodontal disease. Visit the dentist bi-annually for cleanings and maintain good daily oral care. Essential tools to use everyday include toothbrushes, dental floss, mouth rinse and tongue scrapers.
Maintaining optimum health is essential for people with diabetes. Schedule regular exams with health care providers and take good care of yourself everyday.