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Diabetes: 5 Steps to Total Body Care

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5 Steps to Total Diabetes Body Care continued...

Prevention tips: Prevent these problems from becoming serious by making sure your blood sugar is under control and see an eye doctor for an annual exam.

4. Teeth and Gum Care with Diabetes

Most people develop gum problems during their lives but, if you have diabetes, your risks are higher for serious gum disease -- and for getting it at an earlier age.

That's because, with diabetes, your body is more vulnerable to bacteria and infection. High blood sugar levels can make gum disease worse, resulting in bleeding, tender gums, and gums that pull away from teeth. In time, you may need gum surgery to save your teeth.

Other mouth problems that are a risk:

  • Gum inflammation
  • Poor healing after dental treatment
  • Dry mouth
  • Burning mouth or tongue

Prevention tips: Brush after every meal, floss daily, and see your dentist twice a year. Be sure to tell your dentist you have diabetes and bring a list of the medications you take.

Discuss any mouth infections or difficulties in controlling blood sugar levels with your dentist, and make sure blood sugar is under control before routine dental procedures. If you're having dental surgery, your dentist should consult with your diabetes doctor about your medications and the need for an antibiotic.

5. Caring for Your Heart When You Have Diabetes

Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke are very serious concerns for anyone with diabetes, but they can also be prevented.

Buildup of cholesterol on blood vessel walls (hardening of the arteries) is the most common cause of heart disease and stroke. When blood sugar levels are higher than normal, this damaging process escalates - reducing blood flow to the heart and brain and increasing heart attack and stroke risks. The heart's pumping ability can also be affected, leading to heart failure.

Prevention tips: Follow your doctor's advice in keeping blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check.

If you have diabetes, your cholesterol and blood pressure levels must be lower than for the average person - so you must take your prescribed medications. Lose weight if you are obese, exercise regularly, and eat a heart-healthy diet low in fat and salt. Quit smoking and talk to your doctor about taking a daily aspirin.

And, finally, make sure you're getting good medical care for your diabetes. "If you're trying everything lifestyle changes, nutrition, medication but if blood sugar is not getting better, you may need a new doctor," says Orlander.

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Reviewed on October 28, 2011
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