Prevention is becoming the new buzz word in health care these days. American medicine has always been based on taking measures to treat the illness after it occurs instead of trying to prevent it. Today, some of us are afraid we will not get the proper care when we need it and others realize that doing some basic self-care is the way to prevent future problems. Starting from head to toe, I would like to recommend some simple products to get you on track to better self-care with your diabetes.
- MOUTH CARE – An electric toothbrush gets to the gum line better than a hand held type. Using complete toothpaste with fluoride will help bone strength below the gum line. Remember, periodontal disease is a leading problem for people with diabetes and can possibly affect the inner lining of your heart arteries with inflammation. Sugar free gum cuts down on plaque formation after eating.
- SUGAR FREE AND ALCOHOL FREE MOUTH WASH – Diabetes dries out the mucous membranes in the mouth and so do these mouth washes. Look for one that is friendly to your mouth.
- BABY ASPIRIN-81mg of ASA – It should help since people with diabetes are prone to blood clots and it reduces your chance of blood clots. PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN PRIOR TO TAKING IT SINCE IT COULD CAUSE BLEEDING PROBLEMS.
- BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF AND MONITOR – Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death in people with diabetes. Knowing your blood pressure is as important as knowing your blood sugar.
- GLUCOSE METER – You get blood work every 3 months but that does not tell you what is happening daily due to food, exercise, stress, illness or fatigue. YOU NEED TO CHECK DAILY to know your pattern.
- GLUCOSE TABLETS – Hands down, the BEST source of simple sugar that is available to treat hypoglycemia. Try to get the 5 gram tablets so you can take 3 tablets for a total of 15 grams.
- PLATE METHOD EATING – It’s a plate that is divided into sections which allows you to choose sized portions wisely. The problem is rarely the food choice; it is the food portion size. Look for a 8-9 inch plate, not a 11-12 inch plate. Research has shown using a plate method is a positive way to manage your weight.
- SUPPLEMENTS – If you have been on Metformin for awhile, have your vitamin B12 tested. You may need a B12 injections or oral B vitamins. If you take a statin medication, you should consider taking CO Q 10. Statin drugs deplete the body of this enzyme and 100mg daily could help. Have your vitamin D level checked. If you are below 32, consider a vitamin D supplement of 1000 units a day. Consider a calcium supplement of 1200mg, a day, split the dose half in morning and half in the evening. It should include magnesium. Consider fish oil supplements especially from Norwegian waters. They are less polluted. Fish oils can help reduce your risk of cardiac problems and reduce your triglycerides. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TAKING ANY SUPPLEMENTS SINCE THEY MAY INTERFERE WITH OTHER MEDICATIONS.
- HAND HELD FOOT MIRROR – If you can not see the bottom of your feet, YOU NEED ONE OF THESE. You need to check your OWN feet daily for cuts, color change, nail infections, skin cracks.
- SKIN FOOT CREAM/PUMICE STONE – You should care for your feet daily with warm water, mild soap. You can use a wet pumice stone to GENTLY rub dry skin patches BUT NO FOOT SURGERY OR O.T.C. Wart removers/corn removers.
- FOOT SENSORY TESTER – Neuropathy is one of the leading complications of diabetes. A simple test using a monofilament can indicate the beginnings of changes in your sensation.
- POOL SHOES – You should NEVER go barefoot. Wear these in the ocean or pool and remove them and dry your feet when you leave the water. Accidents happen instantly.
- COMFORTABLE BLENDED SOCKS WITH NO SEAMS – People with diabetes should not go without socks in their shoes. It is a protective layer between you and the shoe. They should fit properly without causing large indentations in the skin; too loose or too tight is dangerous.
- LARGE PILL CONTAINER WITH POP OUT DAYS – Most people with diabetes are on several medications several times a day. It helps to plan the week of pills and be able to carry along each day. This alleviates missing doses because you are not home.
Realize this is a good start to self care. With diabetes you are 95% in charge and by taking these steps, you are well on your way.
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.