How can you enjoy your life with diabetes?

Diabetes

Step 1: Learn about diabetes.

What is diabetes?

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – Your body does not produce insulin which is a problem since you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy. You have to take insulin every day to live.
  • Type 2 diabetes – When your body does not produce or use insulin well. You need to take pills or insulin to help to control your diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes – Some women get this kind of diabetes during pregnancy. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it does go away, these women and their children will have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

Why should you take care of your diabetes?

Taking care of yourself and your diabetes will help you feel good today and in the future. When your blood sugar (glucose) is normal, you are likely to:

  • have more energy
  • be less tired and thirsty
  • pass urine less often
  • heal better
  • have fewer skin or bladder infections

You will also have fewer chances of having health problems caused by diabetes such as:

  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Eyesight problem which can lead to trouble seeing or going blind.
  • Tingling, or numbness in your hands and feet, also called nerve damage.
  • Kidney problems cause your kidneys to stop working.
  • Teeth and gum problems.

Action Plan

  •  Make healthy food choices
  •  Maintain a healthy weight
  •  Be active throughout the day
  •  Take your medicine regularly

Step 2: Know your diabetes ABCs.

You need to learn how to manage your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. This can help to lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other diabetic problems.

“A” stands for the A1C test (A-one-C):

What is A1C?

This is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. This is different from the blood sugar checks that you do daily.

Why is it important?

A high level of blood sugar damages your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes. Therefore, you need to know your blood sugar levels over time and make sure that it does not get too high.

What is the normal result of A1C for people with diabetes?

The normal result of A1C for people with diabetes is below 7 but it varies from person to person.

“B” stands for Blood pressure:

What is Blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels.

Why is it important?

If your blood pressure gets too high, then it makes your heart work harder. It can cause a heart attack, stroke, and damage to your kidneys and eyes.

What is the normal level of blood pressure for people with diabetes?

The normal level of blood pressure for people with diabetes is below 140/90.

“C” stands for Cholesterol:

What is Cholesterol?

There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL.

LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and block your blood vessels which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

HDL or “good” cholesterol helps to remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.

What is the normal result of LDL and HDL for people with diabetes?

If you are over 40 years of age, then you may need to take a statin drug for heart health but it varies from person to person.

Action Plan

  •  Think about how you will reach your ABC goals. Your ABC goals will depend on how long you have diabetes and how hard your diabetes is to manage.
  •  Keep tracking your progress.

“S” stands for Stop smoking:

Diabetes is a known risk factor for heart diseases and smoking adds to the risk significantly. Quitting smoking not only helps us to cut down on that risk but also prevents major lung issues like lung cancer.

Not smoking and keeping a check on your HbA1c, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can save you from long term complications of diabetes like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and nerve damage.

Step 3: Learn how to live with diabetes.

You may know the steps you should take to stay healthy, but you may have trouble sticking with your plan over time. The following has tips on how to cope with your diabetes, eat well and be active.

Manage your stress:

  • When you are stressed, your blood sugar levels go up so find ways to relieve stress. Try deep breathing exercise, gardening, walks, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Ask for help if you feel down from a health consultant, friend, or family member who will listen to your concerns and help you feel better.

Maintain your diet:

Living with diabetes doesn’t mean following a restrictive diet that you won’t enjoy. However, it does mean making some slight adjustments to control your blood sugar better. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Make a diabetes meal plan with the help of your dietician and stick to your diabetes meal plan.
  • Choose foods that are lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
  • Eat foods that are rich in fibre such as whole-grain cereals, bread, crackers, rice, or pasta.
  • Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, bread and cereals, and low-fat or skimmed milk and cheese.
  • Drink water instead of regular soda or juice.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin, and one quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol, as it can make your blood sugar go too high or too low.
  • Avoid intake of excess salt, as it can increase your risk of high blood pressure.

Be physically active:

Physical activity is very important for people with diabetes. It is not as hard as you might think to be more active. In fact, being physically active can be fun. Whenever it is possible, go outside with a friend, and enjoy the weather.

  • Set a goal to be more active throughout the week. You can start slow by taking 10 minutes’ walk, 3 times daily.
  • Twice a week, work to increase your muscle strength with physical exercise such as yoga or try push-ups.

The benefits of being physically active include the following:

  • You can maintain a healthy weight and even lose weight if needed
  • It controls your blood pressure
  • It can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol

Before starting any physical activity, drink plenty of fluids while being physically active to prevent dehydration.

Tips for living with diabetes:

  • Never skip your medicines for diabetes and ask your doctor if you need aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Inform your doctor immediately, if you have any side effects.
  • Medication and insulin play an important role in maintaining your blood sugar level. So, always take the correct dose as suggested by the doctor.
  • Keep checking your feet daily for cuts, blisters, red spots, and swelling. Inform your doctor right away about any sores that do not go away.
  • Brush your teeth and floss every day to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep track of your blood sugar levels. You may want to check it one or more times a day.

Action Plan:

  • Ask for a healthy meal plan.
  • Ask about ways to be more active.
  • Ask how and when to test your blood sugar and manage your diabetes accordingly.
  • Use these tips to help with your self-care.
  • Discuss how your diabetes plan is working for you every time you visit your doctor.

Step 4: Get routine care to stay healthy.

See your doctor at least twice a year to find and treat any health problems.

At each visit, be sure you have a:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Foot check
  • Weight check
  • Review of your self-care plan

Two times each year, have an:

A1C test. It should be checked often if it is over 7.

Once each year, be sure you have a:

  • cholesterol test
  • complete foot exam
  • dental exam to check teeth and gums
  • dilated eye exam to check if you have eye problems
  • flu shot
  • urine and a blood test to check for kidney problems

At least once in your lifetime, get a:

  • pneumonia shot
  • hepatitis B shot

Mediclaim and diabetes.

If you have Mediclaim, check to see how your plan covers diabetes care. Mediclaim covers some of the costs for:

  • diabetes supplies
  • diabetes medicine
  • visits with a dietician
  • special shoes, if you need them

Action Plan

  • Write down the date and time of your next visit.
  • Keep a record of your diabetes level.
  • If you have Mediclaim, check your plan.

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