5 Tips for Staying Healthy with Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association reports that more than one-quarter of US seniors have diabetes, and a full half have prediabetes. Diabetes is associated with higher mortality rates, higher risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced function, and decreased ability to live independently, especially in seniors,
However, it is possible to stay healthy if you have diabetes.
Follow these 5 tips and avoid diabetes-related complications:
- Have a Medical Team — and Check in with Them Regularly
A team approach is especially important in managing diabetes since the disease affects a variety of organ systems. Your diabetic healthcare team should generally include a primary care doctor, endocrinologist, dentist, ophthalmologist, and a podiatrist. You may also need a cardiologist or other specialist, depending on your specific condition.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends diabetics see their healthcare providers at least twice a year. That way you can prevent small problems from becoming big problems.
- Keep Your Blood Sugar Level in Range
The higher your blood sugar level, the greater your risk of complications from diabetes. It is crucial to keep your blood glucose level within the range specified by your healthcare provider. This will protect you from all diabetes-related issues, and especially from microvascular disease, which affects small blood vessels such as those in the kidneys and the eyes, and neuropathy, nerve damage that usually affects the eyes and feet.
- Don’t Forget about Your Blood Pressure
Having diabetes doesn’t mean that your blood sugar is all you need to monitor. High blood pressure in diabetics is associated with increased risk of kidney damage. It’s best to keep your blood pressure under 130/80. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it is important to have your blood pressure measured regularly.
Need help controlling blood pressure? Reduce your salt intake, and lose weight if you need to. Both affect blood pressure. If required, your doctor can also prescribe blood pressure medication.
- Cholesterol’s Important, Too
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease; keeping your cholesterol under control is an excellent prevention effort.
Your HDL, the healthy type of cholesterol, should be over 40 mg/dL. Your LDL, the unhealthy type of cholesterol, should be under 100 mg/dL. Keep triglyceride levels under 150 mg/dL.
Have regular fasting blood tests to confirm your cholesterol levels are within the healthy range.
- Watch Your Feet!
A podiatrist is an important member of a diabetes healthcare team. Diabetes impairs circulation and healing, allowing what would be a minor foot problem in a non-diabetic to turn into a medical emergency.
You should wash and check your feet every day, always wear socks and shoes, and have your feet checked at every medical exam.
Diabetes is a serious disease, with major potential complications. However, proper care can help a diabetic live a normal, healthy life.
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