Diabetes is a serious disease, but it doesn’t have to hinder your quality of life. Since this disease can affect your entire body, it is important that you manage it with proper care. The goal for those with diabetes is to keep their blood sugar levels within the suggested range, but they also need to manage their cholesterol and blood pressure for optimal health and well-being.
Keeping your glucose levels within the suggested range is crucial. If your blood sugar levels fall below the recommended range, then you could experience hypoglycemia. Although it will vary from person to person, most individuals with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels above 70 mg/dL. If your blood glucose level becomes too high, then you could experience hyperglycemia. This can cause headaches, weakness, blurred vision, and the need to urinate more frequently.
If you properly manage the disease, then you will probably have more energy, feel less thirsty, and have fewer bladder infections. Furthermore, managing it also helps wounds heal better and lessens frequent urination. Proper diabetic care also lessens the risk of developing health problems, such as:
- Eye problems
- Heart attack
- Nerve damage (numbness and tingling)
- Kidney problems
- Oral health problems
There are three primary types of diabetes, and the type that you have will influence how you manage your glucose levels.
Type 1 is when an individual’s body doesn’t produce insulin. Insulin is vital because it turns sugars from the foods that you eat into energy. Those with type 1 will need to take insulin on a daily basis.
Type 2 is when your body fails to adequately produce insulin. Treatment for this type typically requires oral medication or insulin injections. This is the most common form and typically surfaces in adults.
Gestational diabetes develops among some pregnant women. In most cases, it goes away after birth. However, even if it goes away after birth, the mother and child are still predisposed to developing the condition later in life.
What are the ABCs of Diabetes?
Managing this disease can be helpful if you understand the ABCs of diabetes. This stands for A1C test, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The A1C test is different than daily blood sugar tests. With an A1C test, your blood sugar levels over the past three months are measured. This test is important because it compares your blood sugar levels over time, which helps prevent damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and feet.
Those with the disease need to monitor their blood pressure levels carefully. Blood pressure is the force of blood against the blood vessel walls. Although it may vary, the ideal blood pressure range for individuals with diabetes is below 140/90.
Your blood has two kinds of cholesterol known as HDL and LDL. HDL is good cholesterol that aids in the removal of bad cholesterol from your blood. Bad cholesterol is LDL and can accumulate and clog your blood vessels. This increases the risk for a stroke or heart attack. While many individuals can maintain ideal cholesterol levels with proper diet and exercise, some individuals over 40 may need to take medication to promote heart health.
Simple Ways to Manage Diabetes
Although proper management of the disease will vary based on an individual’s unique needs, here are some factors that can help you keep your blood sugar levels within the suggested range:
- Make Healthy Food Choices
What you eat contributes to healthy living, regardless of if you have diabetes or not, but individuals with the disease have to watch what they eat because foods can raise glucose levels. One of the most important keys to diabetes management is knowing how to count carbohydrates, which are the foods that have the most impact on your glucose levels. If you take insulin before meals, then it is essential to know how many carbohydrates are in your foods, which enables you to get the right insulin dosage. Meal planning and portion control can help you keep your carbohydrates in check. Well-balanced meals have a good balance of fruits, starches, proteins, and fat. When you’re planning meals, be mindful of the carbohydrates that you choose because some carbohydrates, which include whole grains, are more nutritious than others.
- Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can cause a number of complications for those with the condition, such as eye disease and nerve damage. If your diabetes is controlled, you may be able to have an occasional drink, but don’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach. If you take insulin or other medications to monitor your condition, then a well-balanced meal can help to prevent your blood sugar from falling too low.
It is also helpful to choose your drinks with care. Dry wines and light beer contain fewer carbohydrates and calories than other alcoholic drinks. If you prefer mixed beverages, then diet soda, club soda, seltzer, and other sugar-free mixers won’t raise your blood sugar level. Be sure to check your blood sugar level before you go to bed after you have a drink. Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels for more than 24 hours after it was consumed. If your blood sugar isn’t within a range of 100 mg/dL to 140 mg/dL, then try to have a snack before bed to prevent a drop in your blood sugar level.
- Get Plenty of Exercise
Physical activity is an integral part of the management process. As you exercise, your muscles will use glucose for energy, and exercising on a regular basis can help your body regulate insulin more efficiently. Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous. Light activity, such as gardening and housework, can help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while you are exercising because dehydration can cause a fluctuation in your glucose levels. Furthermore, always try to have a snack at your side when you are exercising in case your glucose levels drop.
- Take Your Medication
When diet and exercise aren’t enough to keep your blood sugar levels in range, your medications, such as insulin, are made to lower glucose levels. These medications are effective when they are taken at the right time, and the size of the dose is just as important to properly manage diabetes. If you take insulin, then it should be stored properly away from excessive heat, and don’t use medication that has reached its expiration date.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking narrows the blood vessels and makes your heart work harder, and it is important that individuals with this disease refrain from smoking. In addition, those with type 2 who are exposed to excessive amounts of nicotine will probably need to take higher doses of insulin to stabilize their blood sugar levels. If you smoke, then quitting can start helping your body lower and regulate blood sugar levels more effectively.
- Manage Stress
Although it can be stressful managing diabetes, stress can hinder your body from properly regulating your blood sugar level. When your body reacts to stressful situations, it’s known as the fight-or-flight response, which causes your hormone levels to rise and sets off your nerve cells. As a result, your body will release cortisol and adrenaline, and your respiratory rate will also increase. If you have diabetes, your body will not effectively convert glucose into energy, so it will accumulate in your bloodstream and cause unhealthy blood sugar levels. When individuals with type 2 experience mental or emotional stress, their blood sugar levels will rise, but those with type 1 may have an increase or decrease in blood sugar levels.
There are many ways to effectively manage mental and emotional stress. A short walk outdoors can be helpful, and some individuals prefer to meditate to unwind. Joining a support group can also be an ideal way to ease the tension in your life.
When you’re sick, your body will release stress-related hormones to fight the illness, but these hormones may also cause your blood sugar level to rise. Furthermore, when you’re sick, it could also affect your appetite and normal routine, which can make diabetes management more complicated. If you plan ahead, such as knowing what medications you can take, it will help you keep your glucose levels in range. When you do get sick, it is important to continue taking your medication as prescribed. However, if you experience vomiting or nausea, your medications may need to be adjusted to avoid hypoglycemia.
- Practice Daily Care
While taking daily medication and eating healthy are beneficial for proper management of the disease, it is also important that you know what else to do with your body on a daily basis. You should check your feet daily for red spots, cuts, blisters, and swelling. Any sores that don’t go away should be looked at by a healthcare professional. Oral health is vital for diabetes management. Keep your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy by brushing and flossing every day. It is also important that you get plenty of rest.
It is necessary to keep a record of your blood sugar levels, and monitoring your blood pressure on a daily basis can also help you feel your best. Monitoring your blood sugar levels daily is vital if you take insulin. The results can help you make decisions about your daily physical activity, medication, and food plan.
Would you like to know more about how you can manage diabetes? If so, schedule a consultation at Southside Medical Center in the Atlanta area. We are dedicated to helping our patients live healthy lives with personalized care. Contact us today to book your appointment and get started with our self-management classes.