Diabetes is a serious disease. Following your diabetes treatment plan takes round-the-clock commitment. But your efforts are worthwhile. Careful diabetes care can reduce your risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.
Here are 10 ways to take an active role in diabetes care and enjoy a healthier future.
1. Make a commitment to managing your diabetes
Learn all you can about diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Maintain a healthy weight. Monitor your blood sugar level, and follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your blood sugar level. Ask your diabetes treatment team for help when you need it.
2. Don’t smoke
- Reduced blood flow in the legs and feet, which can lead to infections, ulcers and possible removal of a body part by surgery (amputation)
- Heart disease
- Eye disease, which can lead to blindness
- Nerve damage
- Kidney disease
3. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
Eating a healthy, reduced-fat diet and exercising regularly can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. Your doctor may also recommend taking prescription medication.
4. Schedule regular physicals and eye exams
During the physical, your doctor will ask about your nutrition and activity level and look for any diabetes-related complications — including signs of kidney damage, nerve damage and heart disease — as well as screen for other medical problems.
5. Keep your vaccines up to date
- Flu vaccine. A yearly flu vaccine can help you stay healthy during flu season as well as prevent serious complications from the flu.
- Pneumonia vaccine. Sometimes the pneumonia vaccine requires only one shot. If you have diabetes complications or you’re age 65 or older, you may need a five-year booster shot.
- Hepatitis B vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the hepatitis B vaccine for adults with diabetes who haven’t previously received the vaccine and are younger than 60. If you’re age 60 or older and have never received the hepatitis B vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.
- Other vaccines. Stay up to date with your tetanus shot. Your doctor may recommend other vaccines as well.
6. Take care of your teeth
7. Pay attention to your feet
To prevent foot problems:
- Wash your feet daily in lukewarm water. Avoid soaking your feet, as this can lead to dry skin.
- Dry your feet gently, especially between the toes.
- Moisturize your feet and ankles with lotion or petroleum jelly. Do not put oils or creams between your toes — the extra moisture can lead to infection.
- Check your feet daily for calluses, blisters, sores, redness or swelling.
- Consult your doctor if you have a sore or other foot problem that doesn’t start to heal within a few days.
8. Consider a daily aspirin
9. If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly
10. Take stress seriously
Above all, stay positive. Diabetes care is within your control. If you’re willing to do your part, diabetes won’t stand in the way of an active, healthy life