If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still keep up with the things you love while you take care of yourself. Manage your health the right way and you'll live a rewarding, active life.
1. Get Informed
Your first step is to ask questions and learn as much as you can about:
- Changes you can make to take care of yourself
- Medical treatments you need
Start with your doctor. He can put you in touch with diabetes educators, dietitians, or other specialists who will get answers to the questions that concern you most.
Talk to your friends and family members who have diabetes. You could also join a support group and connect online with other people who are going through the same things you are. Knowing more helps you make choices.
2. Get the Right Care
You and your doctor will work out a treatment plan that's tailored to your needs. It could include things like:
Medicines. Whether you need medication to help treat your diabetes depends on your symptoms, complications, blood sugar levels, and other issues.
Lifestyle changes. You'll see improvements in your condition if you change your diet, lose extra weight, and get more active.
Monitor your blood sugar. Your doctor can teach you how to keep track of it and show you what to do to avoid highs and lows.
3. Track Your 'ABCs'
The disease makes you more likely to get conditions that may affect your eyes, nerves, heart, teeth, and more. This is why you want to watch your diabetes ABCs.
"A" stands for A1c. This test measures your average blood sugar over the past 2 or 3 months. Your goal is to keep your score around 7% or less without risking low blood sugar.
"B" stands for blood pressure. If you have diabetes, you're more likely to get high blood pressure, which can lead to other serious conditions. Get your numbers checked two to four times a year.
"C" stands for cholesterol. Diabetes can also put you at risk for high cholesterol, which makes heart disease and strokes more likely. Get it tested at least once every year.
4. Take Steps to Manage Your Diabetes
Once you know more about living with the condition, you're ready to put that knowledge into practice. A healthy lifestyle includes:
- See your doctor two to four times a year.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Reach and keep a healthy weight.
- See your dentist at least twice a year.
- Don't smoke.
- Get eye and foot exams every year.
5. Stop Complications Before They Start
You can prevent problems if you control your diabetes with diet, medication, exercise, and regular checkups.
It’s also important to know the warning signs of some common complications:
Nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy). It can have an impact on your feet and legs. You might get symptoms like:
- Numbness or tingling
- Cuts or sores that heal slowly
- Erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness
Eye problems (diabetic retinopathy). This can happen from damage to small blood vessels in the retina, a layer of tissue on the inside of your eyes. Talk to your doctor if you notice any signs of trouble, such as things like:
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain or pressure
- Spots before your eyes
- Sudden loss of sight
Kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy). It's a complication that can lead you to need treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant. To rule out problems, your doctor will check your blood pressure two to four times a year and your urine protein (microalbumin) at least once a year.
Heart disease and strokes. They're both more likely if you have diabetes. The risks go up even higher if you smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease. Talk to your doctor about your risks and what you can do to lower them.
6. Get Help From Your Diabetes Health Care Team
If you catch complications early you'll boost your chances of treatment success. Talk to your doctor whenever you have concerns. You may need something as simple as a lifestyle change or a tweak in your meds.
Whether you have questions about your treatment or think you may have a complication, your diabetes health care team is there to help. Their goal is the same as yours: let you keep doing the things you love with the people you care about.