Diabetes Care 101: 7 Tips To Avoid Complications
Diabetes disrupts body functions.
Not just by starving your cells of glucose - a primary source of energy for most body cells. It takes a toll on different systems of your body.
According to the World Health Organization, diabetes is the main cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
Most people with diabetes understand the need to monitor and manage their sugar levels.
“I want this frequent urination and fatigue to stop”, you may say.
But diabetes complications make managing your diabetes even more crucial.
Therefore, you need to get armed with effective diabetes care tips… so as to save yourself from the complications of diabetes.
Diabetes And Its Complications
Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by an inability of the body to properly utilize glucose. This results in high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Elevated blood sugar level, if not controlled over time, damages various systems in the body. This damage is mainly caused by reducing the elasticity of blood vessels (macro and micro blood vessels). The blood vessels become narrow, impeding blood and oxygen supply to different parts of your body.
And the following complications could arise:
Nerve damage (Neuropathy): High levels of blood sugar causes swelling and scars to the cells of your nerve. Over time, your nerve becomes unable to transmit signals across cells.
This can affect various areas of your body, such as your feet - causing tingling and numbness (you have cuts and bruises without feeling pain); your stomach - causing bloating and vomiting; your heart - resulting in irregular heart rate; and sexual dysfunction, especially in men - because it damages the nerves you need to get and keep an erection.
Leg amputations: Nerve damage and reduced blood flow due to high blood glucose levels make your feet susceptible to foot ulcers, sores and infection. Which eventually leads to the need for amputation.
Kidney damage (Nephropathy): High blood sugar causes damage to the tiny blood vessels of the Kidney, called nephrons. This affects the functionality of the kidneys.
Heart diseases: The narrowing of blood vessels increases pressure against the artery walls - leading to High Blood Pressure... and other cardiovascular ailments. Diabetes UK states that diabetics are five times higher at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eye damage (Retinopathy): High blood glucose levels, and other diabetes complications like high blood pressure and kidney diseases, causes the small blood vessels that supply blood to the retina to swell up. This results in fluid leaking into the surrounding tissue, impairing your vision.
Stroke: Diabetics have a two- to three-fold higher risk of vascular diseases and strokes, a study reported. The narrowing of blood vessels, increased blood pressure and formation of plaques on artery walls could precipitate a stroke.
Despite these startling health implications of diabetes, there’s good news.
What is it?
You can avoid and/or delay the onset of these complications if you manage your blood sugar levels properly. No matter your diabetic type.
7 Tips To Avoid Diabetes Complications
This entails cutting off unhealthy foods and increasing your consumption of healthy foods. Some best practice in your food choice include:
Choose healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as - whole grains, fruits, vegetables, pulses (beans, lentils), and dairy.
Avoid highly processed cereals and low fibre foods
Consume more natural foods - fruits and vegetables. They provide you with minerals, vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and other essential food nutrients.
Cut off fatty foods and red meat - they contain saturated fats that clog your arteries, predisposing you to cardiovascular diseases. Take more healthy fats obtained from foods like avocados, fish oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil.
As you consider what to eat, also note when to eat. Avoid skipping breakfast and eating late at night.
Exercise helps your heart and lungs work better, helps you maintain a good weight, and improves the function of insulin - making it regulate glucose levels better.
Experts recommend 30 minutes of regular, moderately intensive exercise, such as walking, swimming, biking, playing sports and indoor body workouts.
If you’re just starting your exercise regimen, begin with 5-10 minutes, and gradually scale up from there.
Before you start any vigorous exercise, talk with a health or exercise professional to know what is best for you - especially if you have high blood pressure or other ailments.
Monitor your blood sugar levels:
Monitoring your blood sugar level is the most important thing a diabetic patient should do, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated.
Get a glucometer at home and check in the mornings (record your results). This will help you detect any relationship between a rise or drop in your blood sugar levels and the food you take.
You may also see how your medicine - especially if you take insulin - and physical activities affect your sugar level. With the results you obtain over time, your health care team can decide on the appropriate medications and best management practices for you.
Get regular health examinations:
Regular health checks help you detect diseases diabetes predisposes you to, so you can manage it early. Recommended health examinations for diabetics include:
A1C - which measures your average blood glucose levels over the past three months. It shows how well you’re controlling your blood sugar over this period. American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises that you run this test at least twice a year.
Blood pressure checks: Knowing the correlation between diabetes and high blood pressure, have your blood pressure checked regularly to ensure it stays within the normal range.
Lipid profile: This test shows the level of your High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) - good cholesterol, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) - bad cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Foot examination: American Podiatric Medical Association states that 1 in 2 diabetics will experience numbness of the feet. Therefore, as recommended by ADA, have a complete foot examination at every doctor’s visit. If your primary doctor detects a problem, quickly see a Podiatrist.
Kidney test: At least once a year, run a urine test that measures your albumin to creatinine ratio. The result tells your doctor how well your kidney functions.
Eye examination: Experts recommend you visit an ophthalmologist yearly to check if high blood sugar caused damage to the blood vessels of your eyes. Also look out for signs of cataract, glaucoma or retinopathy.
Besides the fact that 30 to 40 percent of smokers stand the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to nonsmokers, smoking can worsen the health condition of diabetics.
The nicotine inhaled when smoking makes insulin less effective. Hence smokers require higher insulin to manage blood sugar levels.
According to the CDC, smokers who are diabetic have a higher possibility of suffering debilitating health problems such as neuropathy, retinopathy, heart and kidney disease.
And this is not only for people who smoke (first-hand smokers). Those who stay around smokers (second-hand smokers) are also affected.
Quitting smoking may appear difficult. But there’s surely a way out! Speak to your doctor, a psychologist and your family so they can help you get rid of this.
Manage your cholesterol and weight, blood pressure level:
Studies reveal that when people with type 2 diabetes reduce their weight by 2-5%, they record improvement in their blood sugar level, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
With regular exercise, consumption of healthy food, and other weight loss regimens recommended by a professional, you’ll gradually shed off excess weight.
Also, ensure you knock off foods containing bad cholesterol and feed more on healthy fatty acids. And like earlier discussed, ensure your blood pressure stays within normal range.
Take your medications as recommended by your doctor:
Taking your diabetes medications every single day could be tiring.
In fact, a review published in Diabetes Medicine revealed that 38 - 93 percent of people with diabetes have a hard time taking their medications.
The challenge could be with remembering when to take it or how to take it. Or it could be a dislike for drugs - pills or injections - or lack of sufficient funds to buy your regular medications, considering the rising cost of drugs.
Whatever the case is, always remember that your health and life is important to you, your loved ones and the lives you’re connected to. So you need to put every tool in your healthcare toolbox to work. And your medication is one of them.
Here are some tips to help you stick to your medications:
Use a pillbox, so your drugs stay together. And ensure the prescription is written so you don’t mix up the dosage.
Set reminders and keep your pillbox in a visible position
Get support from family, friends and your health insurance if you can’t afford your medications at some times.
Diabetes complications can wreck your health and snatch the joy of living if you don’t take appropriate diabetes care measures.
Now, you know the 7 diabetes care tips that will help keep your sugar levels within normal and save you from the health complications linked to diabetes.
Go put them to work... and enjoy a healthy life!
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