You’ve probably heard lots of diabetes management recommendations from your health team. I know it can be overwhelming at times. However, your doctor and other health care providers do want to see you as healthy as you possibly can be – and they especially want you to avoid suffering from some very serious diabetic complications such as diabetic retinopathy, poor kidney function, diabetic neuropathy, and heart disease to name a few. With your doctor’s recommendations, you are your best daily caretaker. As a nurse and diabetes educator I’ve worked with thousands of diabetes patients and have come up with the most common and essential tips for successful diabetes management.

Know Your “ABCs”

  • A1C – Your 3-month average blood sugar. Work with your doctor to achieve a level between 6.5%-7%.
  • Blood Pressure – 130/80 is optimal. Test and record your blood pressure 3 times per week with a home blood pressure monitor.
  • Cholesterol – “Good” cholesterol (HDL) level above 45 for men and above 50 for women. “Bad” cholesterol (LDL) below 100 if no cardiac disease, and below 70 if documented cardiac disease
  • Triglycerides – Below 150

Use Your Glucose Meter Daily

  • Glucose levels:
    • Fasting in the morning 80-130 mg/dl
    • Postprandial (after meal) Ideal is 150 mg/dl or below, acceptable is 180 mg/dl or below
    • Bedtime 110-150 mg/dl
  • Vary testing times and document results in a log book
  • Use your control solution to test the first strip of every new bottle
  • Use lancets only once and dispose lancets in heavy duty plastic container like a Sharps container

Inspect & Care For Your Feet Daily

  • Use an telescoping self-exam mirror to see bottom of your feet
  • Wear well-fitting shoes with support and cotton-nylon blend socks
  • Never go barefoot, including not going barefoot in the house
  • Consider a visit to the podiatrist (your insurance may cover)
  • Never treat blisters, corns or calluses yourself
  • Use lotion after your bath/shower on heels of feet
  • Dry and apply power between your toes
  • Neuropathy is common in diabetes and the lead cause of foot amputation

Maintain Good Vision Care

  • Have a yearly eye exam with retina dilatation
  • Report any vision changes immediately
  • Wear sunglasses outside – always

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

  • Have a dental checkup and cleaning every 6 months
  • Use a “complete” toothpaste and alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Floss after meals to prevent periodontal disease

Carry Glucose Tablets

  • Use when experiencing low blood sugar below 70 mg/dl
  • Take 15 grams of glucose and wait 15 minutes, then retest blood sugar
  • Repeat if still below 70
  • If between 70-80, eat a protein and carbohydrate snack

Consider a Yearly Flu Vaccination

  • Also speak with your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine

Monitor Your Kidney Health

  • Have a urinalysis and monitor your microalbumin (protein) level which indicates the health of your kidneys

Stay Active

  • Do aerobic type of exercise – a minimum of 150 minutes per week in 30-minute sessions.
  • Walking, swimming and biking are good activities
  • Work on balance and stretching

Learn to Read Food Labels

  • Learn to read food labels and count carbohydrates
  • Get a “portion” plate that makes it very easy to manage portions of meat/protein, fruits/vegetables, and grains
  • Include fiber, vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, lean meats and whole grains
  • Drink plenty of water unless you are on fluid restriction
  • Do not skip meals

Stop Smoking

Take All Medications as Directed by Your Doctor

Limit Alcohol – Ask Doctor for Recommended Amounts

NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.