Have you thought about improving your diabetes management skills for the New Year? If so, you are like many others that use this time of year to improve their health.
If you are ready to recommit yourself to managing your diabetes here are recommendations you should consider which are supported by all the major health organizations including the American Diabetes Association.
- Eat healthy foods in the right amounts to help to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Check your recommended healthy weight here.
- Get plenty of physical activity.
Exercise improves blood glucose levels, lowers blood pressure and triglycerides, can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, helps with weight management, decreases stress and helps strengthen bones.
- Follow your schedule for checking blood glucose levels.
Checking your blood glucose is the best way to monitor your diabetes control. The number on your meter tells you your blood glucose level at the specific time you test. Use these numbers to make decisions about your diabetes management.Check out the American Diabetes Association’s web site page on checking your blood glucose for more detailed information about how and when to test, typical ranges and what the results mean.Also check out Diabetes Forecast’s 2010 Consumer Guide’s section on blood glucose meters for the latest information on blood glucose meters or go directly to the PDF which lists all the latest makes and models, their features, blood sample size, battery requirements, coding requirements and web site info.
- Visit your doctor two to four times each year, even if you are feeling fine. According to the American Diabetes Association, on your follow-up visits your physician should:
– ask about times you’ve had high or low blood glucose levels
– ask to see your blood glucose records
– ask what adjustments you’ve made to your diabetes care plan
– ask what problems you’ve had in following your diabetes care plan
– ask about symptoms that might indicate you are getting a diabetes complication
– ask what other illnesses you had since your last visit
– ask what medicines you are taking now
– ask if your life has changed in any way
– measure your weight and blood pressure
– look in your eyes
– look at your feet
– take blood for glycated hemoglobin measurement once a year, take a urine sample to look for protein (micro-albumin) and take blood for cholesterol and blood fat (triglyceride) tests
– review your treatment plan to measure your progress in meeting goals and see where you are having problems
For more information about what to expect at your medical visits be sure to check out the American Diabetes Association’s web page on diabetes care providers. Also check out what to expect on a first visit to your doctor.
- Be sure to follow the exact instructions for all your diabetes medications. If you have questions be sure to contact your doctor or pharmacist.
- Visit an eye doctor at least once a year (this is above and beyond what the doctor does during your regular visits) because these check-ups are the best way to catch eye problems early when treatment is the most effective.
- Once a year make sure your doctor performs a comprehensive foot exam. It is easy to lose track if you are seeing your doctor several times a year but this important component of care can protect your feet.
- Get a flu shot each fall
- See your dentist twice a year because diabetes increases the risk of gum problems. High blood glucose values make gum problems more likely. To avoid issues take good care of your teeth daily by thorough brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist for checkups and cleanings.
- Know the numbers that make a difference in your long-term health: A1c, cholesterol, triglycerides, microalbumin, and blood pressure. Make sure you discuss your individual goal for each of these with your doctor.
For more detailed information about managing diabetes check out the American Diabetes Association’s web page on Diabetes Treatment and Care.
by Cindy Farricker, MS, RD, CDE