Taking care of your diabetes requires regular medical exams, healthy lifestyle changes, and taking medication properly. There are also standard guidelines in diabetes care that should be followed. Learn more about taking care of your eyes and feet, and the ABC’s of diabetes self-management.
What Is the “A” of Diabetes Care?
The ABC’s of diabetes care refers to three areas you should be aware of to get a sense of possible diabetes complications. The “A” of diabetes care refers to your A1C level. It measures your blood glucose average over the past three months. Your doctor may recommend getting this test at least twice annually depending on your control. The target A1C level is typically below 7% but may be adjusted by your doctor to your own situation. Lowering this number by a single point can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications such as a heart attack or stroke. Elderly people and children may have special considerations. Monitor your blood glucose levels between doctor appointments. The usual target for people using a standard blood glucose meter is 80 to 110 mg/dl fasting, 80-120mg/dl before meals and 140- 180 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal starts. High blood sugar can be harmful to your nerves, heart and blood vessels. Resist the temptation of sugary snacks and desserts. Make healthier food choices. Add sugar substitute to your tea and coffee rather than sugar or honey. Exercise daily to help get your A1C in the target range.
What Is the “B” of Diabetes Care?
The “B” of diabetes care refers to your blood pressure. People with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. The generally recommended ADA target is getting your blood pressure under 140/80 mm Hg. This may vary depending on the specific patient. Use a home blood pressure cuff to test your blood pressure between medical appointments. High blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. Exercise daily for a total of thirty minutes to help reduce your blood pressure. Choose low-fat foods and stay away from saturated, processed foods. Trim the fat off the meat you eat and select lean cuts from the grocer or butcher. Talk to your doctor about the standard guidelines in diabetes care.
What is the “C” of Diabetes Care?
The “C” of diabetes care refers to your cholesterol levels. Your dangerous cholesterol is your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while the healthy one is the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. A high level of LDL cholesterol can clog your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Your LDL should be under 70 mg/dl with triglycerides under 150 mg/dl. Your good cholesterol should be above 50 mg/dl for women and over 40 mg/dl for men. The numbers are often modified based on each individual’s overall level of risk. Help lower your cholesterol by eating whole foods rather than processed or packaged foods. Prepare fresh meals and try to avoid fast food restaurants. Eat plenty of greens and add Omega-3s to your diet, such as salmon and tuna. Read the labels on food and be aware of portion sizes. Reduce the fat, sugar, and salt in your daily diet. Losing five to ten percent of your overall body weight can help. You may need a statin medication to reduce LDL levels when food and exercise fail.
Keeping Your Eyes Healthy with Diabetes
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of eye problems, including retina tears, cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy. Symptoms may include blurry vision, floating spots, changes in your peripheral vision, and pain or pressure in your eyes. Schedule an exam with an ophthalmologist at least once a year. A dilated retina test should be done annually to determine the health of your eyes. Other tests may be done to check your peripheral vision, the pressure in your eyes and how well you see at different distances. Take care of your eyes by keeping your blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels as close to your target numbers as possible. Wear sunglasses when outside to protect your eyes. Talk to your doctor about eye drops if your eyes are unusually dry. Monitor your blood glucose and blood pressure regularly. Increase your physical activity and eat a balanced diet. If you’re a smoker, quit smoking.
Keeping Your Feet Healthy with Diabetes
People with diabetes have a higher risk of foot problems and diabetic neuropathy. A simple cut or scrape can lead to a serious infection. It is important to take proper care of your feet. Check your feet daily for cuts, sores, ulcers or other irregularities that should be reported to the doctor and treated. Wear shoes and socks at all times. Have your feet measured to ensure your shoes fit correctly. Avoid shoes that could cause injuries, such as flip-flops, open shoes, and high heels. Have your feet checked by the doctor during routine exams. Wash your feet each day with warm water and gentle soap then dry them gently and completely with a soft towel. Apply lotion after washing your feet, avoiding the areas between your toes. Trim your toenails straight across or have your toenails cared for by a podiatrist if you have trouble seeing or reaching them. Keep diabetic foot care products on-hand including a foot lotion or cream, a mirror to help you check the soles of your feet, non-binding diabetic socks, closed slippers, an emery board to file your toenails, and nail clippers. Managing your blood sugars can help you prevent problems with your feet.
Following these standard guidelines in diabetes care can help you live a happier, healthier life. Diabetes management can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. When your levels are in check, you have more energy to do the things you like most!