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Diabetes Management in 10 Minutes or Less

Do a Quick Body Scan

After your shower each day, check your body head to toe. Look for cuts, sores, blisters, and ingrown toenails. Don't forget the places where moisture can hide and germs can grow. Check under your arms and breasts, and between your legs and toes. Look extra-closely at your feet. Use a mirror to help you see all over. If you have cuts or scrapes, treat them quickly. Also treat dry skin.

Put Your Shoes by the Door

Take a minute to put a pair of slip-on shoes and socks near the door so you aren’t tempted to go outside barefoot. Make sure your slippers or house shoes are handy, too. Even indoors, you need to protect your feet. Check your shoes before putting them on -- make sure there's nothing in them that might bite or cut you. Change shoes during the day to relieve pressure spots on your feet.

Prepare Emergency Snack Packs

Put a few glucose tablets, or five or six pieces of hard candy, into baggies. Always carry a few when you go out in case low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, strikes. When blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL you can feel, dizzy, hungry, or shaky. Skipping a meal, taking too much diabetes medicine, or exercising harder than usual without eating can trigger it.

Check Your Blood Sugar

Based on your disease, treatment, and other factors, your doctor will tell you how often you should your check blood sugar. If he tells you to check first thing in the morning, put your glucose monitor on your nightstand to remind you. When you wake up, your blood sugar should be somewhere between 90 mg/dL and 130 mg/dL. Within an hour or two after starting a meal, your target should be less than 180 mg/dL.

Put a Tag on Your Gym Bag

Does your doctor say you should you check your blood sugar? Make a reminder for yourself. Testing before and after exercise can help you learn how working out affects your levels and can make it easier to avoid dangerous drops.

Make Insulin Work for Your Lifestyle

If you’re always on the go and don’t eat at regular times, ask your doctor about rapid-acting insulin or an insulin pump that delivers fast-acting insulin. It typically starts to affect your blood sugar within 5 to 15 minutes. It could make things easier. This kind of insulin can be taken just before eating. Or you can adjust the pump prior to meals, exercise, or a change in your usual activity. 

Power Up Your Diet

Print the American Diabetes Association's list of 10 super foods. These foods have a low glycemic index, meaning they're less likely to affect your blood sugar than bread or other foods. Post the list on your refrigerator so you see it when you make your shopping list, plan meals, or look in the fridge for something to eat.

Drink Some Water

High blood sugar causes your body to lose fluid, and your skin can get dry. Drink plenty of water and other liquids to help your skin stay supple and healthy.

Exercise in Spurts

Exercising 30 minutes a day is an important part of managing your diabetes. If you find it tough to fit into your busy lifestyle, break it up into three 10-minute spurts instead. Try 10 minutes of strength training in the morning. Play an active game with the family during the day or take a brisk stroll at lunchtime. Then, walk with the dog in the evening. This combo can help improve your blood sugar control and lower your risk of heart disease.

Set Up a First-Aid Kit

Diabetes can turn a minor injury into a major problem. Take a few minutes to gather these supplies:

  • hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds
  • triple-antibiotic cream for dressing cuts and scrapes
  • sterile gauze for covering wounds

If you have circulation problems or peripheral neuropathy, you may need to see a doctor or wound care center. Keep those important phone numbers handy.

Remember Your Medical Alert Bracelet

Put your medical alert bracelet or pendant near your watch, rings, or other jewelry you wear every day. This may help you remember to wear it. Or keep it near your toothbrush or keys. In an emergency where you’re confused or unable to speak, it can save critical time by letting others know about your diabetes.

Slideshow: Diabetes Management in 10 Minutes

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 07, 2014

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